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Friday, 27 March 2009


James M. Cain
Originally published 1934
Orion Crime Masterworks series.

I love the Orion Crime Masterworks series because they are all uniform paperback editions that look good on the shelf. And are a easy way of picking up classic books at a nice price.

The Postman always rings twice was a book I knew by reputation but had never read. Well I have now and even now it's still shocking in places and a damn good read.

What surprised me is how urgent and ferocious the sex scenes are even if they do largely take place off page. But the author does a great job of depicting the heat between the two characters and right from their first dalliance it is obvious that their affair is going to consume them. In fact it's not really a love affair but something far more primal.

The book is so well known that any thoughts I have are largely redundant but what I can say is that the book is as contemporary as anything I've read recently and truly deserves the tag of noir classic.

Orion's Crime Masterworks series is well worth checking out - they've published books by Hammett, Conan Doyle and James Cain as well as just about every classic crime writer you can think of. A lot of these titles have been out of print for years and they offer a good chance to catch up on classics you might have heard of but never read.

Top marks Orion


David Cranmer said...

James M. Cain was in the stratosphere of writers. He has a story called Pastorale that's featured in the Big Book of Pulps. One passage, in particular, has a severed head tumbling from a car and landing on a frozen lake that's still stuck in my cranium.

Ben Willans said...


Orion also do a similar line for Horror/Fantasy and SF. I kinda wish they had a subscription service for them.

Scott Parker said...

I read it last year and I really enjoyed it, too. Much better than Double Indemnity. The scene towards the end (the one with the dripping stuff...hint hint) totally shocked the crap out of me for its directness but also because it was published in the 1930s. Who knew that kind of description was published back then. I also vastly appreciate how quickly Cain sets up the story. In my edition, chapter 1 is about two pages. That's all he needs for the entire story. Remarkable. Anyway, good book.


Ben - yeah I've gota couple of the SF ones - Conan, Gene Wolf and Ray Bradbury

Paul Brazill said...

it's a gem and a great influence on Bert Camus the Algerian goalie!