Friday, February 22, 2013

Evolution of the Mystery Genre

The Postman Always Rings Twice

James M. Cain

Narrated in the first person by Frank Chambers, a young drifter who stops at a rural California diner for a meal, and ends up working there. The diner is operated by a young, beautiful woman, Cora, and her much older husband.

There is an immediate attraction between Frank and Cora, and they begin a passionate affair. Cora is tired of her situation, married to a man she does not love. Frank and Cora scheme to kill her husband and start a new life together without Cora losing the diner.

Frank and Cora fake a car accident. They ply Nick with wine, strike him on the head, and crash the car and they both are injured. The prosecutor suspects what has occurred, but doesn't have enough evidence to prove it. He charges only Cora with her husbands murder, coercing Frank to sign a complaint against her. Cora, furious and indignant, insists upon offering a full confession detailing both their roles. Her lawyer tricks her into dictating that confession to a member of his own staff. Cora, believing her confession made, returns to prison. Though Cora would be sure to learn of the trickery, a few valuable hours are gained. The lawyer uses the time to manipulate those financially interested in the trial to have their private detective recant his testimony, which was the final remaining weapon in the prosecution's arsenal. The state is forced to grant Cora a plea agreement, under which she is given a suspended sentence and no jail time.

Frank and Cora patch things up and plan a happy-family future. Then Cora is killed in a car accident while Frank is driving. The book ends with Frank, from death row, summarizing the events that followed, explaining that he was wrongly convicted of having murdered Cora. The text, he hopes, will be published after his execution.

• Our Government (1930)
• The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934)
• Serenade (1937
• Mildred Pierce (1941)
• Love's Lovely Counterfeit (1942)
• Career in C Major and Other Stories (1943)
• Double Indemnity (1943) (first published in Liberty Magazine, 1936)
• The Embezzler (1944) (first published as Money and the Woman, Liberty Magazine, 1938)
• Past All Dishonor (1946)
• The Butterfly (1947)
• The Moth (1948)
• Sinful Woman (1948)
• Jealous Woman (1950)
• The Root of His Evil (1951) (also published as Shameless)
• Galatea (1953)
• Mignon (1962)
• The Magician's Wife (1965)
• Rainbow's End (1975)
• The Institute (1976)
• The Baby in the Icebox (1981); short stories
• Cloud Nine (1984)
• The Enchanted Isle (1985)
• The Cocktail Waitress (edited by Charles Ardai, 2012)[7]


(July 1, 1892 – October 27, 1977)
James Mallahan Cain was an American author and journalist. Although Cain himself vehemently opposed labeling, he is usually associated with the hardboiled school of American crime fiction and seen as one of the creators of the roman noir. Several of his crime novels inspired highly successful movies. The Postman Always Rings Twice was list #14 on the Top 100 Mysteries of All Time.

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