There are traces of dark humor in a number of Jim Thompson’s novels, but in Pop. 1280, the classic noir writer plunges directly into the comedy implicit in the corruption and violence that mark his fiction. In this book, the humor comes from Nick Corey, sheriff of Potts County, and his interaction with the seedy, deceitful world that he oversees. The whole purpose of the plot in Pop. 1280 is to move Nick from one dark, slapstick moment to the next, leaving readers to decide if the point is to make fun of Nick’s sexual escapades, the various women who indulge him, or human sexuality in general. The same is true for the corruption and the violence: is it Nick’s casual “I’ve played dumb for so long I’ve stopped playing” act that is the joke? Or are readers themselves being made fun of for enjoying accounts of staged rape, pimp killing, slander, gossip, and yet another of Thompson’s small-town carnivals of immorality? Whatever the answer, many critics have found the novel compelling, and it remains one of Thompson’s most popular works.