Belinda's Reviews > Three by Cain: Serenade/Love's Lovely Counterfeit/The Butterfly

Three by Cain by James M. Cain
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Mar 27, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: detective-noir-fiction
Read from March 20 to 25, 2013

Another lovely gift from my library's e-reader section. I have been hunting James M. Cain books like crazy in my noir/detective fiction obsession and my library is pretty podunk (sorry, but it is--it's tiny so they go with what is popular which is chick lit, romance and mystery lite--none of which I can bear) so if you are looking for classics especially anything unusual it's really tough. Our big library is great but a pain to get to so I usually stick with the one nearest to me. Even the boyfriend's bookstore is painfully short on variety. When I came across this I was so happy as it contained 3 books I was looking for and was available to check out --wheeee! I was not disappointed. The first book, Serenade was a really amazing and unusual book for it's time--as I have said before, I don't do synopsis type reviews--but it contained some pretty fascinating storylines for a book of it's time, including latent homosexuality and a deep and passionate discussion of music. Like so many of Cain's books, a woman played a major role--something I adore about his work--and the women are not always the typical noir femme fatales--they are complicated and move the action forward actively. A really satisfying and emotional read. I did not enjoy Love's Lovely Counterfeit nearly as much--it was pretty anti-climactic after Serenade. Interestingly, it's the only book Cain specifically wrote for the screen. That might be part of what I did not like about it--it had a falseness about it that I don't see in his other work. The Butterfly more than made up for it--wow--what a great book--and a total combination of 2 types of book I love--a hillbilly gothic mixed with noir elements. As I was reading it I was actually nervous and tense (in a good way if that makes sense) and the last few chapters were just "can't put it down" amazing. Even if I had not loved this book and Serenade so much, the afterword by Cain himself would have made it a worthwhile read--absolutely hilarious and honest. I just adored Cain as a person after reading that--funny, sharp and ironic. I plan to keep reading him as much as possible.
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