The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and Selected Stories
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and Selected Stories

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  530 ratings  ·  46 reviews
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)These three classics from the master of the noir novel, along with five otherwise unavailable short stories, are electric with the taut narrative voice, the suspense, and the explosive violence and eroticism that were James M. Cain’s indelible hallmarks.The Postman Always Rings Twice, Cain’s first novel–the subject of an obscenity trial in Bos...more
Hardcover, 594 pages
Published July 22nd 2003 by Everyman's Library
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
100 Best American Authors
104th out of 522 books — 371 voters
Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëAnimal Farm by George Orwell1984 by George OrwellAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Everyman's Library 100 Essentials
78th out of 100 books — 86 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,074)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
rabbitprincess
May 12, 2010 rabbitprincess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of noir, short stories
This is certainly a big collection, and I have to say that perhaps reading all of the stories in one shot was not the greatest idea. It all tends to kind of blur together at points. However, I shall discuss each portion separately, and try to be fair.

The Postman Always Rings Twice - still gets 4 stars because it is really very well written, tense and suspenseful, but I do feel it kind of lags after the initial trial. However, that last line packs way more of a punch than I recalled. A-1 writing...more
Erik Simon
POSTMAN and INDEMNITY are every bit as noirish good as you'd expect, and MILDRED PIERCE is just inches shy of being a great novel. It's very good, but it operates on too many improbable plot twists to be great. That said, these are three terrific reads from an age when even the more commercial writers knew how to write a good sentence.
Danna
For anyone wanting to explore the works of Cain, I highly recommend this Everyman's Library edition. The editor made great choices regarding what to include and in which order. Each of the three novels was better than its predecessor, and the short stories at the end are like lovely niblets of almost-too-ripe fruit and delicious stinky cheese after a fine three-course meal full of fat and cholesterol. You love every bite, even while dreading the inevitable heart attack.

This entry is specifically...more
Jay McNair
I don't know what to say about these. They embrace savagery. These stories know how to move.

Three novels in my edition, and five short stories. Of the novels, Mildred Pierce by far the longest, surprisingly slow and subtle in comparison with the reckless pace of the first two. Pierce also the least satisfying ending. Double Indemnity the most satisfying ending, and maybe the most satisfying overall. But The Postman Always Rings Twice has a clout to it, that filling station, the moment of grace i...more
Jennifer
I'd wanted to read James M. Cain for a long, long time, and had never gotten around to it. The NYT recently ran a piece by Michael Connelly about The Cocktail Waitress, a long-lost, recently rediscovered, newly published Cain novel. "Holy moly," I thought, "I need to read that!" So I promptly got on the library waitlist for it. (More about that particular book in another review soon, I'm sure.) I noticed this omnibus edition and got it.

I was not unfamiliar with the plots for these novels, I tho...more
Kgwhitehurst
Read "Postman Always Rings Twice". Weird, creepy, and sordid with the added twist that criminals are stupid. Frank is fundamentally stupid; he couldn't think his way out of a paper bag. The ironic twist at the end is heartbreaking. "Double Indemnity" contains pure calculating evil and stupidity of the clever person. Walter Huff is fantastically stupid for someone who can actually think several moves ahead of most people. The stupidity shows in two ways with Walter: one, he can be easily manipula...more
Mark
#98 on the Modern Library Board's List. James M. Cain's "The Postman Always Rings Twice" is an early noir, a grizzly tale of murder and scandal set (and written) in the 1930s. It's barely a novel, if measured solely by word count. Its a hell of a novel by any other measure.

Frank Chambers is a vagabond, drifting between cities and jobs when he comes across Nick Papadakis' roadside diner. Nick is in search of hired help, and offers Frank a job. Frank takes one look at Nick's wife Cora and accepts...more
Christy
Who are these people? I think the dust and heat have made them all crazy. This is what I thought might be going on when I lived in Tucson for a year. James M. Cain is classic hard-boiled, fast-talking, sexy stuff. The storylines are improbable, and almost always involve murder, which I think we can all agree is a pretty good solution if you want to sleep with some married person you've just met. Cain’s vision of America might make you feel like the world is a shitty place. But they’re great – th...more
Tony
This amazing collection of novellas and short stories shows James M. Cain's evolution from a great pulp novelist to a simply great novelist. Though The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and most of the stories focus on noir murder tales, and though they are spiced up with quite outrageous sexuality and violence, they are not mere titilation and exploitation. Rather, they reveal that Cain's basic interests are in the question of what pushes people to extremes, and this is a great lite...more
Martin
A great value, considering the price you'd pay for the three novels separately. Having never heard of James M. Cain, getting this book was a leap of faith for me. Well, lucky me: I found another great author, and will most likely seek out some more of his stuff.


The Postman Always Rings Twice - - 4 stars - -

So the title is misleading. There are no postmen in the story, and no ringing either. But the story was just so good that the title becomes inconsequential. Might've been called "Sundaes with...more
Erin W
Read April-May 2011: The Postman Always Rings Twice & Double Indemnity

Even though I love noir movies, I've read very little of the pulp fiction from which those movies drew their inspiration. They vary widely in quality, like all genres of fiction, but Cain is one of the masters here. The two novellas that I read (both are contained, along with his novel Mildred Pierce and a handful of short stories, in a lovely Library of America edition) are dirty fun. The characters are written a bit flat...more
Michael Alexander
May 25, 2007 Michael Alexander rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: noir fans, realists
Nowhere near as emotionally complex and fully-realized in character and atmosphere as Chandler (and unlike him, I didn't fall in love), hardly as gritty and weirdly educated as Hammett.

Yet: piled on with raw ugly emotion and a bitter sense of the horrid little transactions that make up a failed life.

Postman Always Rings Twice is the most sadomasochistic treatment of passion in any book I know outside of aristocratic France or post-50s fiction. Plus it's a heist novel. How great is that?

Double in...more
Michael Grills
I think that if you are into comic books, film Noir or Murder then this is the book for you. There is no wasted words and almost every line I could see as a panel in a comic book.



This is is a collection of stories I was very pleased by all of them. The longest was less then two hundred pages so they are in no way epic. It's more like you are peering into a brief moment in time, taking part in murder, cover up and the consequences of the crime.



All the players are written very realistically so th...more
Gary
after dashiell hammett elevated the nickel pulp to classical status (knopf published his works just as they were serialized), in comes cain. where hammett's books are written from the p.o.v. of law & order, cain usually takes the opposite vantage: the sociopath, or one finding his or herself at odds.

i haven't read all the stories in this edition and look forward to them. serenade is also well worth a read, lurid as it might get. his book the butterfly was his biggest seller, 'tho: it's abou...more
Henry
Jul 22, 2008 Henry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone, especially writers
-Double Indemnity- was strange and very, very hot. -Mildred Pierce- was gripping, but a little long. -Postman- was even hotter than -DI-. Weird that some lumpy guy who wrote advertising could write about sex so fiercely but covertly. Both of those books grab you and race you to the finish line

Anyway, Cain has a style like Hammett, but something grungier, more basic, behind his sentences and stories -- and less concern with plot, more interest in character. Not to say his plots aren't intriguing....more
Steve Malley
If you haven't read James M Cain yet, you have to check him out.

This Everyman's Library edition is a great introduction. You get a lot of story in a tidy little hardback. Good paper, readable print, a volume that practically begs to be held and a nice wee ribbon for a bookmark. And the price is right, too.

Cain's prose is lean, tight and wickedly sharp. Like a back-alley razor-fight, you don't even feel the cut until after you see the blood. By then, it's too late.

Movies have been made of Cain's...more
Jess Faraday
An excellent collection from an excellent writer. After watching the TV adaptation of "Mildred Pierce," I wanted to read the story. It was a fascinating psychological study, although Mildred is less sympathetic in writing than in the adaptation. "The Postman Always Rings Twice" was brilliant, even though it left me wanting a shower afterward. I swore that I wouldn't read "The Baby in the Icebox," based on the title alone...but once I started, I couldn't stop.

The stories are dark--the very defini...more
Kent Newcome
I started out 2011 with these three books read in a single volume, very nicely done. I do not have this edition, however, it is minus the selected stories.

This is such classic depression era nior fiction, tough, lean and mean-spirited...with all the pulpy elements that make for three great stories filled with shady characters in emotionally and physically violent interaction with each other. Cain's popularity today is next to nil with the exception of the movie versions of these novels. I would...more
Harrison
The Postman Always Rings Twice--excellent, brief thriller. A legendary noir novel. 5 stars.
Double Indemnity-- it's like a diet "Postman," basically the same plot but with less emotional power than its predecessor. 4 Stars.
Mildred Pierce-- A gripping character study, with memorable characters and development. Best characters include Monty Beragon, Mr. Treviso, and the "coloratura" herself, the evil Veda. 5 stars.
The stories are all solid but "The Baby in the Icebox" stands out as the strongest, p...more
Joe
Not nearly gritty enough for my noir needs, but still great writing.
Lise
The choice of novels included is excellent while the short stories offer a good insight on how Cain developed his unique style. They may be not be quite as good as his novels, but they still make a very good read.
The only let down in this book is the introduction, which doesn't say much of interest and its author presumes that anybody picking this book would have already read the novels and so disclose key elements of the plot which would spoil the pleasure of a first time reader. No need to say...more
John
Put down your Twilight Saga and 50 Shades of Grey and take a look at James M. Cain. I picked up this book after Kelli started reading it. Normally, I probably would have passed it up but I was on vacation, had finished my book, and had no other options. So I started reading it and I have to say, I am glad I did. Sure there are some darker themes in Cain's stories than I would normally read but Cain is a master story teller that keeps you coming back for more with his style, intriguing characters...more
Kenneth
James M. Cain should be required reading for English majors and aspiring writers -- Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice are quite perfect first-person novels that present narrators with singular and powerful voices. Mildred Pierce and the collected stories are also great, especially to have all in one volume bound in the durable Everyman fashion, but I'm sad they didn't put Serenade in here too, which is Cain's third masterpiece of first-person narration. All in all, I consider t...more
Marissa
I'm starting to feel like James Cain is one of the greatest American authors. The crisp simplicity and honesty of his style is really something. He acknowledges the humanity of his characters in all its impulsiveness and derangement, but they are still recognizable as human beings. He manages to make these weaknesses seem not just understandable, but noble. He has the eye of Flannery O'Connor, but manages to numb the cruelty with real respect for his characters. I highly recommend him.
Robbin
I could read James Cain every single day. Sure most of the stories revolve around easily-influenced dames who meet easily-corruptible men, each trying to get the other to do their dirty work which typically revolves around money, sex and murder, but Cain's stories are so refresging. True noir! Of this collection, only one story, Dead Man, disappointed. Quick and easy to read. Sit back and enjoy as you see the stories unfold as if they were smoke-filled black and white films.
Bill Sweet
Jan 11, 2013 Bill Sweet marked it as owned-not-read
Shelves: literature
Just finished The Postman Always Rings Twice. I picked this up because this is a beautiful edition, and I loved the book. Very spare and powerful writing style, for all the plot shortcomings. Not a noir fan, but liked Cain's style.

One odd thing: I'm used to the authors of introductions generally liking their subject, and I found it odd that the introduction to this edition basically says Cain didn't write anything worth a damn after 1948.
Meaghan
i only read the postman always rings twice. it wasnt that good.
Carol
Jul 29, 2009 Carol rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
The only story from this book I was familiar with was Mildred Pierce. I remembered seeing the movie when I was a teen and was quite impressed by it. ALL the stories in this collection have the ability to keep you edgey. You have that feeling of dread...inpending doom. He really captures the feel of the times...The Depression and California, railroad bums and opportunists. Very much worth reading.
Radhika
Mildren Pierce has to be one of the best novellas I've ever read. The pacing was fantastic, and the characters were so complex and yet real. Veda's character, in particular, is both unbelievable and so knowable all at once. The other stories are excellent pieces of noir, and gets me interested in the genre.
Dave
I read all these so i bundled them togethr
Cain is a master writer the Postman always rings twice, has no equal in the Noir genre i think. living in california now I can see it...
and the distrubed Mildred Pierce is very very good but i 'd give that 4 stars its long and loses you sometimes.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 35 36 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Big Sleep; Farewell, My Lovely; The High Window
  • Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s & 40s
  • The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, Red Harvest
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground, Ripley's Game
  • The Plague, the Fall, Exile and the Kingdom, and Selected Essays
  • Swami and Friends, The Bachelor of Arts, The Dark Room, The English Teacher
  • The Galton Case
  • Carried Away: A Selection of Stories (Everyman's Library)
  • The Big Clock
  • The Best of Wodehouse: An Anthology
  • The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh
  • Essays (Everyman's Library Classics)
  • The Legend of the Glorious Adventures of Tyl Ulenspiegel in the Land of Flanders & Elsewhere
  • Shoot the Piano Player
  • The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards
14473
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...
The Postman Always Rings Twice Double Indemnity Mildred Pierce The Cocktail Waitress (Hard Case Crime #109) Serenade

Share This Book