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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

After Dark, My Sweet

cover image By: Thompson, Jim (male)
Publisher: Popular Library (716)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 381: PS3539 .H6733 A69 1955
Contributor: W. Prout


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: Jim Thompson Geographic Locale: fictional small city/large town Date of Publication: 1955  |  Original Date: 1955 Setting: suburban; city's edge; not quite the suburbs Motives: kidnapping

Plot Summary

Drifting through a small city, Bill "Kid" Collins, an ex-prize fighter who recently walked away from a psychiatric institution, enters a bar and spins a story in an attempt to hitch a ride. Fay Anderson, a patron at the bar, recognizes Collins as an out-of-work drifter and invites him back to her house where she and Uncle Bud try to set Collins up in a kidnapping caper. Collins recognizes the set-up and he takes steps to double cross the double crossers.

Major Characters

Charles Vanderventer III male, 7 year old child, small for his age, weak, pale, diabetic

William Collins "Kid," adult male, blonde, slim, very attractive, ex-boxer, now an out-of-work drifter; anti-hero character, not a good guy yet not one of the really bad guys

Fay Anderson adult female, dark hair, very attractive, widow, no occupation

Uncle Bud aka Garret Stroker, adult male, prematurely grey, winning smile, everybody's friend, con man

Doc Goldman adult male, slight suggestion of homosexual tendency, older, pleasant, physician

Bert adult male, middle-aged, big, burly, bartender


gun, fists

Level of Violence

Collins uses physical violence once against Bert (grabs him and drags him over the bar), and on Uncle Bud (knocks him out when Bud pulls a gun on him).


the sexual encounter between Collins and Anderson is expected from the moment they meet; implied homosexual interest by Doc Goldman toward Collins.

Gender Roles

traditional 1950s gender roles for male and female characters.


not a factor

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

there is a great deal of drinking. Fay is very close to being an alcoholic and other characters drink frequently. Almost everyone smokes.

Law Enforcement

there are no law enforcement characters in this novel.

Subject Headings

Kidnapping/ Alcoholism/ Guilt/ Paranoia

Psychological Elements

paranoia (Collins), guilt, depression and alcohol abuse (Anderson),

Film Adaptations

After Dark, My Sweet, 1990, Avenue