The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

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Anthony McGowan, Guest Editor June 2015 chose The Postman Always Rings Twice as one of his favourite short novels.. "This is a hard-boiled crime novel – adult in its themes and it characters – but one so fiercely compressed in its narrative drive, so searing in its pace, so true in its emotions, that anyone beginning it will race feverishly to the fatal conclusion. Cain’s writing is a masterclass on concision and power. The edition I read had only 90 pages, but it it’s like the matter at the heart of a black hole, so dense, it’s said, that if you brought a teaspoon of it back to earth, it would sink straight to the centre of the planet."


The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

The torrid story of Frank Chambers, the amoral drifter, Cora, the sullen and brooding wife, and Nick Papadakis, the amiable but inconvenient husband, has become a classic of its kind, and established Cain as a major novelist with a spare and vital prose style and a bleak vision of America.

Barry Forshaw on Linwood Barclay and James M. Cain At first glance, the contemporary novels of Linwood Barclay and the classic work of fellow American James M. Cain might appear different (and, in many ways, they are), but both share a compelling sense of the dark destiny that threatens their beleaguered characters – and both write in a pared-down, economical style. Barclay’s Fear the Worst is a perfect place to start with this impeccable writer, while the crucial James M. Cain novel is The Postman Always Rings Twice.


The novel's rattling exuberance makes it impossible to read without becoming physically buzzed Spirit & Destiny

Nobody has ever quite pulled it off the way Cain does, not Hemingway, and not even Raymond Chandler Tom Wolfe

About the Author

James M. Cain was born in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1892. Having served in the US Army in World War 1, he became a journalist in Baltimore and New York in the 1920s. He later worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Cain died in 1977.

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James M. Cain
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Publication date

30th November 1999




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