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The Postman Always Rings Twice

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  29,850 ratings  ·  2,171 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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Greg John, no. It is short and gritty, but it's on the unbelievable side. Double Indemnity is pretty much the same story, more polished, more intense, but …moreJohn, no. It is short and gritty, but it's on the unbelievable side. Double Indemnity is pretty much the same story, more polished, more intense, but no, that isn't noir either. Hammet and Chandler? No, they are hard-boiled private eyes, but that's not noir either. Real Noir? Try Cornell Woolrich's "I Married a Dead Man.". Or Jim Thompson's "Killer Inside Me." Or David Goodis' "Down There", made into the Trauffaut film, "Shoot the Piano Player" (the French, you know, embraced American noir, at the time, and gave it a name, more than Americans, who were hooked on Erle Stanley Gardner in the 1940s and 1950s. Or Kenneth Fearing's "The Big Clock", made into a very good noir film. Or just find Otto Penzler's "Big Book of Noir" and find a favorite author and go from there. That's not to say "Postman" isn't good, as it is. But real noir came during and after WW2, imo. (less)

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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-to-film
”Stealing a man’s wife, that’s nothing, but stealing his car, that’s larceny.”

 photo POSTMAN_MAIN1520_zpsem8cp40h.jpg
John Garfield and Lana Turner in the 1946 movie.

Frank Chambers is a drifter, a man who, when life gets too heavy, catches the next boxcar out of town or puts his thumb out on the nearest highway. Being comfortable or achieving normalcy comes with too much responsibility. He’d rather bum it than have anyone relying on him.

It all begins with a sandwich in a California diner on a road in the middle of nearly nowhere.
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.
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M.(Mallahan) Cain (1892 - 1977)
The Postman Always Rings Twice is a 1934 crime novel by James M. Cain. The novel was successful and notorious upon publication. It is regarded as one of the more important crime novels of the 20th century. Fast-moving and brief (only about 100 pages long, depending on the edition), the novel's mix of sexuality and violence was startling in its time and caused it to be banned in Boston. The story is narrated in the first person
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
James M Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice is a fun, racy hard boiled crime noir classic. First published in 1934 and banned in many places for its provocative scenes, the novella is a fun read full of memorable scenes. Albert Camus used this story as his basis for The Stranger, propelling Cain into the limelight. Later, Cain wrote Double Indemnity, cementing his place as a successful noir writer. Yet, it is for Postman that he is best remembered.

Frank Chambers is a con artist and a bum who
I should be embarrassed by how much fun I had reading this. . . but I'm not.

Instead, I feel like I've knocked back five Cuban coffees or finally had that fantasy tryst with the Fiennes brothers.

Wow, am I amped!

This is my second James M. Cain novel (the first being Mildred Pierce—which I immediately read twice) and I'm just swooning over the overdrive, over-the-moon, over-the-top quality of the writing here.

There is NOTHING in this skinny novel that screams this will work for you! Quite the opp
Joe Valdez
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-crime
James M. Cain is a 20th century author whose celebrated works feel alive and deadly, like a black mamba in the wild instead of one stuffed in a museum. Published in 1934, The Postman Always Rings Twice can be read in almost the time the bite from a poisonous snake would be fatal, without the paralysis. What's exciting and often terrifying about Cain's stories are how little it takes for ordinary, seemingly decent Californians to barrel down the highway of self-destruction. A sprinkle of laziness ...more
Jason Koivu
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Don't you love it when something you've heard about for ages turns out to be really good, but in a delightfully different way than expected? ...What do you mean, "no"? Go to hell!

I've been laboring under the misapprehension that this was a play about a killer mail carrier. Maybe that's because I grew up in a time when the phrase "going postal" was coined. (In a sidebar: Isn't it great how the English language is still evolving to incorporate new words and phrases?!) My mother had just recently j
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
An astounding achievement of 20th century Feminism... Psych! It's absolutely the opposite of that...

Taut, tense, and with a lightning-speed pace, this is a seminal work by Cain. Its also a bit elementary, less wordy than the similar noir "The Butterfly" though not as epic (or precious, or memorable) as (my personal favorite) "Mildred Pierce."
4+ Stars ANOTHER good one by Cain......ANOTHER surprise ending......

I vaguely remember the movie with Nicholson and Lange as being hot and steamy, but the words "we did plenty" is about as hot and steamy as it gets here in THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE.

Cain sure could write hard-boiled crime though, and crime is what you get plenty of in this 1934 classic!

Zoomed right through it!

Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it

I think that’s why James M. Cain’s important 1934 crime novella is not more relevant today. After decades of infidelity and violence, the shocking events Cain describes are just not as disturbing now as they were in the 30s. When this came out there were charges of obscenity and the book was banned in some locations. These days, flip a few channels on TV and you’ll see worse. Hell, kids are playing games where there are more sexuality and violence.

But back in the day, this was edgy
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
"Tomorrow night, if I come back, there'll be kisses. Lovely ones, Frank. Not drunken kisses. Kisses with dreams in them. Kisses that come from life, not death."
With the one-two punch publication of both this novel and the serialized version of Double Indemnity in the mid-1930's, James M. Cain truly popularized what we know of now as being the hard-boiled sub-genre of roman noir in American fiction, a long time before the term was even coined. Since it's publication, this boo
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jon Nakapalau
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, crime, classics
When desire is caged it often lashes out...this story illustrates the violence that can be caged in the human heart for years - trapping any hope of happiness even when set free.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read, usa
This 1930s hardboiled crime novel is told from the perspective of a young tramp with a criminal record who enters into an affair with a femme fatale, resulting in them scheming to kill her husband. It's astounding how much fun this book is: Cain effectively employs the tropes of the genre and plays with them, as we slowly learn about the outcome of the story from the criminal himself. What's also unusual for the genre is that the text can be interpreted as having a morale, namely that in the lon ...more
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In this 1934 classic of the crime noir genre, James Cain creates the crime couple of Frank and Cora, who in a few vivid scenes are seared into literary infamy. Even by today's standards the graphic portrayals of sex and violence combined will make you squirm. You don't have to be a fan of the genre to enjoy this novel. Relatively short, the writing is exceptional, making it a pleasure to read. 4.5 stars.
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Tomorrow night, if I come back, there'll be kisses. Lovely ones, Frank. Not drunken kisses. Kisses with dreams in them. Kisses that come from life, not death."

This one is a wonderful pocket sized noir (my copy was only 116 pages). It pretty much contains everything I could ask for from the genre, filled with moral ambiguity, quick dialogue with deeper meanings and a twisty little plot. It also contains some rather shocking moments, with fairly brutal violence, profanity and scenes of sexuality.
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lawyer 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
David Schaafsma
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have seen a couple film versions of this 1934 noir novel and maybe never have read it. It’s steamy in the beginning, implicating us as readers happily into a hot affair. Then more bad stuff happens, but we’re already hooked. We’ve slept with them and now we can’t get loose. This is a nasty little story about a guy who owns a gas station, married to a woman who is unhappily married to him. A drifter shows up, and things very quickly go downhill. The drifter and the wife go crazy for each other, ...more
Barry Pierce
Apr 29, 2015 rated it liked it
A hard-boiled noir that inspired Camus, The Postman Always Rings Twice is never boring because the plot moves so fast that you barely have time to register what happens. This fully developed narrative is compressed into 84-pages in my edition and feels more fully rounded and memorable than many full length novels. Tragic and bloody, this story has an ending that will leave you shaken and you'll have a damned hard time trying to forget it.
David Gustafson
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing

After my huge disappointment with Dashiell Hammett's "The Thin Man," I knew I could find the antidote with a re-read of James M. Cain's masterpiece, "The Postman Always Rings Twice." Thin is thin and noir is noir and Cain's first person novella stands out as the noirest of them all.

Since we know the perps from the beginning, this is never a whodunnit, not even a how-did-they-finally-get-caught mystery novel. This is Cain's search among the ruins of lust, betrayal, suspicion, confession, love and
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, ebook, noir, fiction
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
Betsy Robinson
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wowee kazowee was this good. And the reason I'm so surprised is that I started out laughing at the campiness of it: boy meets girl; they violently canoodle … and then some; boy and girl kill girl's guy; etc. The abrupt transitions and 1930s lingo were funny!

But then something even funnier happened: I couldn't stop reading.

The unattributed cover blurb on my tattered 1935 Knopf Borzoi paperback says:
"If you once begin it you will finish it; and you won't forget it. It is one of the toughest, roug
Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, mysteries
4.5 stars.

Noir. Beautiful. Smoky, black and white, gravelly, grainy, psychologically damaging, enthralling, shocking, and emotional. This is a book you see as though it were a Hitchcock movie. It is wonderful! I finished it a week ago and I already want to read it again.
Paul Nelson
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Postman Always Rings Twice is a classic crime tale from James M. Cain and to be honest you just can't read this without Jack Nicholson being prominent in your thoughts.

Luck is on Frank Chambers side when he gets dumped in southern California with no car and no cash, doesn't sound too lucky admittedly but using his devilish charm he lands a job working at a small truck stop for Nick Papadakis. Then comes Nicks beautiful wife Cora and fervent lust bursts to the fore, and when Nick goes away on
Tatevik Najaryan
The hell with it, this is getting a five star. I don't know who recommended me this book, I forgot to note it, but thank you!
At first it was a little boring. The narrative was not captivating, so I wanted to leave it but the story kept me glued to the book. I couldn't understand if this was a one or five star book. After 50 pages I couldn't put this down. This was fun and at the same time sad to read. Highly recommended!
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-1934
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
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James Mallahan Cain (July 1, 1892–October 27, 1977) was an American journalist and novelist. Although Cain himself vehemently opposed labeling, he is usually associated with the hard-boiled 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 inh

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