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POP. 1280 By Jim Thompson (Vintage: $8.95)

October 28, 1990|CHARLES SOLOMON

Jim Thompson's dark, chilling portrait of a two-bit sheriff in a jerkwater Southern town is best known as the source of Bernard Tavernier's film, "Coup de Torchon." Beneath his simple, good ol' boy exterior, Nick Corey conceals a vicious, calculating mind that enables him to pit his enemies against each other and continue eating, drinking, whoring and murdering. Thompson is a master of plot construction, and Corey's numerous intrigues dovetail as neatly as the sliding panels of a Chinese puzzle box.

"Pop. 1280" inaugurates the Vintage reissues of the "Black Lizard" pulp crime novels published in the mid-'80s by the Creative Arts Book Co. in Berkeley. Included in the initial release are "The Grifters," "The Getaway" and "A Hell of a Woman" by Thompson; "The Burnt Orange Heresy" and "Pick-Up" by Charles Willeford; "Shoot the Piano Player" and "Black Friday" by David Goodis, and "The Hot Spot" by Charles Williams. Vintage has announced plans to publish three additional titles every two months during 1991.

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