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Jim Thompson
Read by Bob Walter

Hachette Audio
March 1, 2012 / ASIN: B007FN0NAW
Mystery/Noir / Audiobook (unabridged) / 6 hours and 7 minutes

Reviewed by Jo Rogers

I don't know if this story is autobiographical or not, but it is about a man named Jim Thompson who wanted to be a writer. It describes how a troubled boy in the 1920s struggled to put the past behind him and make it through the Great Depression.

Young Jim Thompson was always getting into trouble as a boy. The main reason was his friend, Alley. Alley was a born grifter, a con artist extraordinaire. He was always coming up with a scam and conning Jim into participating in it. Jim knew they would be in big trouble if something went wrong. Even though something always went wrong eventually, Jim was the only one with egg on his face. And no matter how far away Jim moved, he always ran into Alley in time. And he always had a scheme he wanted Jim to help him with, and Jim always did. But, darn it, he really liked the guy!

When the Thompson family's money ran out, Jim Thompson Sr. moved to Texas to try his luck in the oil fields there, even though the oil industry had suffered a setback in Oklahoma. The biggest setback to the family's fortune was the father's penchant for helping others without thought for his family's future or taking time to check out the people he helped. Some took advantage of his generosity.

Roughneck is well-written, a dark side to the depression. It shows the struggle to just stay alive, without resorting to a life of crime. Many succumbed to the forces that combined to make their lives miserable. The characters are so real; they are undoubtedly modeled on people he knew. The plot was perfectly done, and required no suspension of disbelief. The end is a real shocker. Listen to Roughneck and learn about how to live through a depression without benefit of welfare.

Reviewer's Note: Contains mild profanity and some violence
Reviewed 2012