The Postman Always Rings Twice
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The Postman Always Rings Twice

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  14,743 ratings  ·  917 reviews
Cain's first novel - the subject of an obscenity trial in Boston and the inspiration for Camus's The Stranger - is the fever-pitched tale of a drifter who stumbles into a job, into an erotic obsession, and into a murder.
Hardcover, 116 pages
Published September 9th 2010 by Orion (first published 1934)
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Kemper
Talk about false advertising. I read this thinking it was a manual for postal employees that I could use to study for civil service exam. But it was just a story about some guy who starts sleeping with another man’s wife and then they decide to kill the husband. It was a pretty good book, but I flunked the test when there weren’t any questions about plotting a homicide. Oh, and that Kevin Costner movie didn’t help either.
Trudi
Stealing a man's wife, that's nothing, but stealing his car, that's larceny. ~The Postman Always Rings Twice
If Noir can be said to have a cold, black heart it’s Postman that provided the juice to electroshock it into a beating, breathing existence. It is without a doubt one of the most important crime novels of the 20th century (of any century really) and has gone on to influence entire generations of writers and filmmakers. As a debut, it shocked, titillated and disgusted, banned upon publicat...more
David
Adjust your expectations because there are neither postmen nor ringings (of any frequency) in this novel. Even though I didn't much care for the 1946 Lana Turner-John Garfield film adaptation, I decided to read this because the new cover was visually appealing. Score one for judging a book by its cover! Suck it, wise saying! This nasty little noir features rotten people doing rotten things, like hatching murder plots, trapping pumas in the jungles of Nicaragua, and opening beer gardens. Cora is...more
Lou
The actions of people in the pursuit of love and happiness are sometimes unplanned spontaneous and dangerous. In this story a man comes to town and becomes involved with a married woman. They plan and plot her way out of the marriage, options on the table they want things to be clean. They have a plan, how will it unfold? Will they walk away in each other arms in happiness?

One thing for sure is there will be blood.
Well if your familiar with the authors writing and read his novel Double Indemnit...more
Tfitoby
Edit: It seems I quite overlooked the fact that this book was part of my HRF Keating challenge and as such requires an extra paragraph to discuss the selection by the famous critic/author. "From out of nowhere, in 1934, a journalist-turned-writer produced a kind of masterpiece...placing him at once in the front rank of American storytellers but also adding an equal mastery of place...a story about justice imposed implacably by the ironies of chance." and who really can argue with that or its sel...more
Brandon
James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice is a structurally sound tent pole of the noir genre. While it inspired an entire generation of crime writers, you’ll be shocked to know that it was met with a fair share of criticism when initially published. Due to a high volume of violence and sexuality (for its time), the book was shunned by critics and even so far as banned in Boston. Despite best efforts to keep the novel out of the hands and minds of American readers, the book’s originality an...more
Becca Becca
Good for lessons on how to be a femme fatale.

Lesson one: Say things like, "I don't especially like the way I look sometimes. But I never met a man since I was fourteen that didn't want to give me an argument about it."

Lesson two: Think up an elaborate murder plan

Lesson three: Wear high-heels, red lipstick, and chain smoke while employing bedroom eyes.
Mike
Dec 03, 2011 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mike by: Goodreads Group Pulp Fiction
The Great Depression produced a remarkable cultural history. In 1934, the following books made their appearance: "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" by James Hilton, "Tender is the Night" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Thin Man" by Dashiell Hammett, "Murder in Three Acts" by Agatha Christie, and "The Postman Always Rings Twice" by James M. Cain. However, it was Cain and Hammett that tapped into the mean underbelly of the times. Read any of the remaining three and you'd be hard-pressed to believe that the world's...more
Kinga
Some time ago I read an interview with James M. Cain in Paris Review Interviews. I had no idea who he was but of course I had heard of ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’. There was a book, there were films. I knew all about it. Here is the storyline as I saw it: it’s some sort of erotic crime thing. A woman lives alone, a guy comes to the door, says he is a postman, she lets him in, he rapes her and kills her but it’s all very ambiguous actually. Anyway, she should’ve known he wasn’t a postman bec...more
Cathy DuPont
Ok...after just getting off my train wreck (for me) of Cain's Serenade, I was gloriously happy to pick up Matthew Hope's (Ed McBain) next in the series, Cinderella.

I had read about 15 pages and just picked up The Postman Always Rings Twice which I got when I got Serenade. It was right there, on my bed in my TBR next pile...got two piles now, one on bed, one on shelf. I just picked it up and read the first couple of paragraphs and put it down to pick up Matthew Hope and continue reading.

Well, f...more
Tatiana
Another book that I was introduced to by 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. My first venture into the genre of American crime noir, and a successful one.

This short (only about 100 pages) novel is narrated by Frank Chambers - a homeless bum, a morally deficient good-for-nothing fellow who gets by by hitch-hiking, gambling and turning shady deals. One day he comes across a roadside diner/gas station and is quickly hired by its owner - a Greek entrepreneur Nick. The only reason Frank st...more
Shaun
Read this as part of a Library of America collection titled Crime Novels. It is the story of a drifter who falls for an unhappily married woman. The two lovers decide to kill the woman's husband, and they almost get away with it.

This is a strange little novella, yet quite enjoyable. The characters are all quite reprehensible, yet I found myself sympathetic to their plight. The writing style is somewhat simplistic yet extremely effective. The story also offers several twists and turns along the w...more
Nikki
Dec 18, 2013 Nikki rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: crime
I'd often heard of this pretty classic crime novel, but I'd never read it. However, it was on my ereader, and I was settled in for a looong car journey, so I randomly picked it up and got going. It's a very easy read: the language is simple, to the point, which helps to define the narrative voice. More flowery language wouldn't work with the character.

Once it gets to a certain point, parts of the plot are obvious, but the trick pulled in court is amazing. It's a simple story, in one sense -- guy...more
Josh
Sharp, lean and deadly - James M. Cains, THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE is everything noir. While there exists a distinct romanticism central to the plot, the other side of the equation – betrayal, a drifter’s skewed logic for a quick score, and murder drive this tale of one man’s gamble and a woman’s lust for a better life.

Frank Champers blows in like the wind and causes a twister of trouble for restaurant owner Nick and his curvaceous and lonesome wife, Cora. Offered a job at the small time d...more
Michael
This is the perfect example of what James M. Cain is capable of, gritty, minimalistic and fast paced. I’ve read this book before and it was nice to reread. The Postman Always Rings Twice is liked watching a car wreck about to happen; you know that things will get bad, but you may not know what exactly happens. I’m a big fan of Cain; he really is the master of the Noir genre. I remember the movie and it worked really well as a movie; even if there are a few differences the feel of the book transl...more
Kristopher
Jul 28, 2008 Kristopher rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: crime fiction lovers, film noir buffs
Such a quick read, it's almost not worth it to not read it. An American crime classic that takes you by force on the page when you realize when it was written. It still has the power it did then. Cain is a ferocious writer, taking hard writing to levels Hemingway dreamed, I think.

I have much romanticized this book since I read an old copy of it in one sitting at the University of Maryland library. I couldn't take the copy I had with me, so I read it all there. I had a giddy smile on my face the...more
Ed
This is a re-read but it's short enough I can fit it in right now, and I've wanted to take another look at it. Short read, of course. This time I noted the imagery--religious, cat, sky, etc. Also, the writing isn't as spare as I remember it. Great repetition of key phrases popped up, too. Loved it--vintage noir like they really did used to write them.
Mark Desrosiers
Hell if I know what "love" is, this novel invokes the word several times, usually justifying a murder. But lust is familiar to us all, and it drives this plot like Pappy Crackpipe on his old-timey monster truck. Really this story is consumed by the obvious wtf elements that bring men and women together: lust, jealousy, security, baby-making. And how each of these weapons can be deployed for a great story, which in this case ends in the death of all the principals, after a brief dunk in the cooli...more
Rex Fuller
Re-reading after several decades may be more worthwhile than I previously thought. When I read this long ago I thought it was a novel of passion. Re-reading it now, I see it as far more complex. Passion certainly drives it, but also frailty and redemption. Now, I also notice how fast it is to read, a sure sign it is extremely well-written.
Franky
Set in the backdrop of the 30s Depression, Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice typifies hard-boiled roman noir, with seedy characters aimlessly drifting towards nature’s dark side. We see this epitomized in Frank and Cora, whose existences are two-faced and bleak, their ideal happiness seemingly at the expense of others. Yet, Cain aptly takes you along with their schemes, and with a minimalist approach to narrative, exposes his character’s flaws and sins. With deceptive, dishonest and generall...more
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 12, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nenette
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Must Read Books Before You Die
Shelves: 1001-core, sex
This 1934 first novel of James M. Cain is sizzling hot. Critics say that Cain is the "hard boiled" novelist and this novel inspired Albert Camus to write his opus, The Stranger. I tend to agree with this. Both novels are minimalist in style: no excessive dramatic emotional scenes. All are too straightforward even if they are both dark and gothic.

This novel, set during the 30's Great Depression in the US, is about a married couple: Nick "The Greek" Papadakis and Cora, a femme fatale who is a bore...more
M.L. Rudolph
1934. Put Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange out of your mind. That movie sucks compared to the book.

Cain's novella is a taut tale of a drifter, Frank Chambers, who arrives at an isolated gas station on the outskirts of LA; the station is run by an old world Greek immigrant, Nick, and his young midwestern wife, Cora. Right away we learn Frank's the kind of guy unburdened by morals or scruples. The instant he meets young Cora he knows in his gut he'll have her. Unfortunately for the Greek, he like...more
Mish
This book starts off with Frank Chamber, a loner and drifter, who gets thrown out of a truck. Hungry and tired, Frank walks into a diner looking for a bed and food, but before long he meets and befriends the owner, Nick Papdakis. Nick it taken with Frank and soon offers him a job. In the meantime, Frank has secretly discovers there is something beautiful of Nick’s that has caught his eye, he accepts Nicks job offer, only for the simple reason to get what he wants.

Just fewer than 100 pages it’s...more
Sunday


Frank & Cora are extremely persistent murderers. They have that old American worth ethic that gently reminds you to try and try again, even when the fatty you are trying to murder refuses to die. But they're not just a pair of go-getters, they are also into things like biting and scratching S&M. And sound business plans.

This book is a noir treasure. It packs my picnic basket with the romance of Southern California; the palm trees, roadside diners, orange groves, and persistent Los Angele...more
Tony
Nov 30, 2007 Tony rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of noir
Shelves: crime-fiction
He's no Ray Chandler, but who is? In this novella the characters are thinly, but fully sketched. But the characters don't matter, it's plot, the overwhelming sense of doom. Of course, the main characters' lack lack of a moral rudder is what pushes the story along. For them, there is nothing wrong with murder, as long as it serves your purposes -- and provided you don't get caught. But no one gets away free. Everyone's playing a game. You can't trust criminals. Or anyone in the criminal justice s...more
[Redacted]
A true classic noir book. It is about a novella size, which I have said before is probably the most consistently perfect size for most stories. This is a story of obsession, murder and retribution. A story of shabby, low rent people doing awful things. There is really only one character in this entire book who seems like a good guy. Spoiler for those who don't know anything about how noir books work, he gets murdered pretty quickly. Everyone else, and I mean everyone, is a complete piece of irre...more
Douglas
Easily one of the best books I've ever read. The pace is relentless. You practically have to physically run to keep up with it. The opening hook is perfect: "They threw me off the hay truck about noon."

A mixture of violence and sex, Dionysian nature and gleeful decadence. A must read.
Laura Jean
Spartan and gorgeous. So fast and so short you just might read it all at once. This was so tight and perfect it might as well have been an under-aged virgin.
Anastasia
Già prima d'imbarcarmi nella lettura c'erano due fattori, uno saldamente utile e l'altro puramente decorativo, che mi avevamo messa nel più idoneo umore per leggere codesto libro.
Il primo era il marchio di garanzia targato James Cain, come quando un degustatore di formaggi prende sotto il braccio un bel parmigiano reggiano e sa già che sarà buono a prescindere - non c'è motivo di credere il contrario. Io quando vedo sotto a un titolo "James Cain" generalmente mi sciolgo in un mix di sensazioni f...more
Sandra
Non sapevo come classificarlo in libreria, ho pensato per lui una etichetta nuova “giallo ma non tanto..”, non so come definirlo: un giallo? Il morto c’è, ma non c’è mistero su chi sia l’assassino; un thriller psicologico? Forse, precisando che la psicologia dei personaggi (dei due personaggi principali) viene in luce soprattutto dai dialoghi, secchi, concisi, telegrafici ma efficacissimi; una storia d’amore? Mica tanto, passione e sesso a volontà, ma sentimenti non ne vedo. C’è una lei, una don...more
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James Mallahan Cain was an American journalist and novelist. Although Cain himself vehemently opposed labelling, he is usually associated with the hardboiled school of American crime fiction and seen as one of the creators of the 'roman noir'.

He was born into an Irish Catholic family in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of a prominent educator and an opera singer. He inherited his love for music from h...more
More about James M. Cain...
Double Indemnity Mildred Pierce The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and Selected Stories The Cocktail Waitress (Hard Case Crime #109) Serenade

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“Love, when you get fear in it, it's not love any more. It's hate.” 56 likes
“Stealing a man's wife, that's nothing, but stealing his car, that's larceny.” 14 likes
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