Character List

Lou Ford—the novel’s main character; a sociopathic killer and town deputy.

Bob Maples—the sheriff of Central City.

Jeff Plummer—a deputy sheriff.

Joyce Lakeland—a prostitute new to Central City, and Lou’s lover.

Joseph Rothman—president of the Building Trades Council.

Amy Stanton—Lou’s long-time girlfriend.

Chester Conway—a well-established local tycoon.

Elmer Conway—Chester’s flabby and foolish young son.

Howard Hendricks—the county attorney.

Max Pappas—the owner of the local diner.

Johnnie Pappas—the son of the diner owner.

Hank Butterby—the office deputy in Central City.

Helene—the housekeeper at Lou’s house when he was a child.

Dr. Smith—the quack doctor who wants to buy Lou’s house and his father’s medical supplies.

Billy Boy Walker—Lou’s flamboyant lawyer.

Dr. Zweilman—the doctor who sedates Lou after Amy’s death.

Character Analysis

Lou Ford is the killer in The Killer Inside Me and the powerful reason for reading the novel. Lou is a complex portrait of the human potential for violence, and he is informed by a wide range of explanations for where that violence comes from. Lou’s neighbors suggest he may have been jealous of his brother, Mike, but Lou discounts that reason, especially because Mike took the blame for some of Lou’s childhood crimes. Lou himself finds the sources of his “sickness” in Chapter 11, when he discovers a picture of his old housekeeper, Helene, with her thighs scarred from a beating. This triggers memories from his childhood, of interactions with Helene and of a conversation he had heard between Helene and his father, who had been a doctor. From these memories, it is clear that Lou and Helene were sexually involved when Lou was markedly underage. Lou’s father too had a milder version of the sickness: he liked to hurt people and felt superior to them. Although he never killed, he recognized the threat inherent in his, and Lou’s, personality disorder. That is why he sterilized Lou.

Joyce Lakeland is one of two female characters in the novel that rise above the level of a briefly mentioned waitress. Joyce’s primary function in the novel is to be a catalyst: the violence with which she greets Lou’s attempt to run her off triggers a return of his killing sickness. As a person, Joyce is defined by her need to be violently dominated. She is completely in control, and pretty savvy, until she meets a man who can master her. The suggestion is that she and Lou fit together well and are essential to one another.

Of the women in the novel, Amy Stanton gets the greatest development, and she bears the brunt of the contempt for women that runs throughout The Killer Inside Me. The world sees her as strikingly attractive, a member of a good family, and an upright citizen, but the limits of her reason are evident. The most she can do to reach for her desires is to attempt trapping Lou into marrying her. And, similar to Joyce, she likes to be taken violently and to be beaten. If Lou embodies the potential killer and slave master in all men, Joyce and Amy embody the potential victim and slave.