Books by James M. Cain

Released: June 1, 1986

"Very minor work by a minor master, then, more for Cain scholars than general readers—with solid introductory materials by Cain biographer Roy Hoopes."
Dedicated to revealing and preserving the human side of one of the preeminent tough guy writers of the 1930's, this volume brings together humorous short stories, satiric playlets, but only one work of distinctive (if very modest) quality: the comic novella Career in C Major, which originally appeared in hard-cover in 1943, then in a 1944 collection (Three of a Kind)—but was first sold to the movies. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 5, 1985

"A sorry hash of mellerdrama clich‚s and murky socio-sexual pathology—without the solid dialogue and sporadic stylishness that made Cloud Nine at least half-readable."
Another posthumous-publication mistake: if Cloud Nine (1984) was an unpleasant, implausible curiosity, this second retrieval from Cain's apparent dotage (he died in 1977, at 85) is sheer embarrassment all around. Read full book review >
CLOUD NINE by James M. Cain
Released: Aug. 1, 1984

"Lots of material for a psychoanalytic approach to Cain, perhaps (Graham's mother hovers heavily)—but just a strange, unpleasant curiosity for fans of his earlier, far more coherent fiction."
An unwise posthumous publication—completed just before his death—in which Cain's lean, dialogue-charged style can't even begin to redeem a peculiar plot and nowhere characterizations. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 15, 1981

"A few early gems of raw, ugly Cain, then, in a generally undistinguished retrospective."
Collected here are the dialogues which, first published in Mencken's American Mercury, brought young Cain—then an editorial writer for Walter Lippmann at the New York World—his first taste of literary acclaim in the late Twenties. Read full book review >
INSTITUTE by James M. Cain
Released: July 1, 1976

"If you're not choosy, the venal and carnal aspects may catch the transient eye but it's all too obviously rigged out of papier mache, not even sheetrock."
Cain, even after last year's Rainbow's End—his first book in many years—still hasn't gotten his second wind back or that Sunday punch of sex and shock. Read full book review >
RAINBOW'S END by James M. Cain
Released: Feb. 1, 1975

"Anyway there's the name which still rings once."
Even if read through a film of nostalgia for those icy snow jobs of yesteryear — Double Indemnity; The Postman — it's hard to fred the pot of gold here except for the fact that there is $100,000 in ransom money taken from a hijacker, who is shot, and Dave becomes the cynosure of all eyes — not only those of the police but of stewardess Jill and his own problem young (step)-mother, two sex-kittenish hellcats (in a nice way). . . . Read full book review >
MAGICIAN'S WIFE by James M. Cain
Released: Aug. 12, 1965

"An updated version of all his Venal, vicious vixens (Moth, Butterfly, etc., etc.) and the story reads with the usual pace and toxicity."
The same sort of trouble Cain has raised ever since the Postman with diminishing success, perhaps just because this kind of thrillkill fiction has become more commonplace. Read full book review >
GALATEA by James M. Cain
Released: June 15, 1953

"A familiar terrain and an assured technique make this reliably combustible."
Two men and a woman, the dilation of desire and the expensive premium it entails, ring some old bells and work up a high thermal temperature. Read full book review >
MOTH by James M. Cain
Released: July 12, 1948

"Sentimental- rather than elemental."
With by no means the furious flagellation of previous works, this is the story of a love rather than a passion, a fairly good guy rather than a heel, and pursues- for James Cain- an almost equable, equitable course in the story of Jack Dillon. Read full book review >
Released: May 23, 1946

"Anyway, it does not rank with his best."
The Cain convention, a man and a woman- murderously and amorously amok-, in the story set (nominally only) in the Civil War, of Roger Duval, better born, and Morina, adventurers and whore. Read full book review >
BUTTERFLY by James M. Cain
Released: Jan. 23, 1946

"Certainly not for conservatives."
Another for the now established Cain market, — the familiar, foreordained formula of a love which is largely lust, and the retribution it carries. Read full book review >
THREE OF A KIND by James M. Cain
Released: June 15, 1943

"Entertainment, if less concentrated, less sensational."
And three in one, short novels, which though maintaining some of the tension, some of the technique, pack none of the violence of his Pestman and Serenade. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 6, 1942

"It's still a very smooth one."
This hasn't the power drive of his previous books; it is less sensational, less emotional, but a cool, hard tale which has a lot of style and speed. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 22, 1941

"Sure sales and rentals."
The author of The Postman Always Rings Twice and Serenade turns from the shock technique of both of these to present an incisive, full length portrait of a woman in business, and her emotional dependency on her coldblooded, greedy, captious daughter — Veda. Read full book review >
SERENADE by James M. Cain
Released: Dec. 1, 1937

"Realler people, warmer and tenderer emotions, a larger gallery of characters and fuller background leaves you less punch-drunk than The Postman but the same tight, hardhitting style will appeal to the former audience."
A dynamic, physical attraction, like that in The Postman Always Rings Twice, between a once famous singer, now a bum, and a young and very wise Mexican whore, grows into an enduring, if doomed, love. Read full book review >