Man, I really did like this book a lot. It's not Thompson's best work but it is so, so well done. Thompson was, along with Cain, a genius at writing broken, amoral people that you can't help but root for. He was the pied piper of human misery and self destructive nihilism.
The plot of the book is more or less followed by the movie. I saw the movie a decade or so ago and liked it. I held off on reading the book for a long time because I had seen the movie. That was an unfortunate decision on my part. The few plot lines not followed by the movie turn out to add a tremendous amount to the book. Even Donald Westlake's noted ability with dialog could not improve on the original in this case. The movie was great but could not match the aura of despair and sleaze that permeates the novel so wonderfully. I could not recommend this book more highly. Again it isn't Thompson's most powerful novel, or his best written...it is just excellent, and isn't that enough?