James M. Cain

James M. CainBio

James M. Cain (1892-1977) was one of the most important authors in the history of crime fiction. Born in Maryland, he became a journalist after giving up on a childhood dream of singing opera. After two decades writing for newspapers in Baltimore, New York and the Army—and a brief stint as the managing editor of The New Yorker—Cain turned to fiction, penning a slim novella, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) that became one of the most controversial bestsellers of its day.

A tightly-wound tale of passion, murder and greed, it remains one of the foremost examples of American noir writing, and set the tone for Cain’s next few novels, including Serenade (1937), The Butterfly (1938) and Double Indemnity (1943), which was famously filmed by Billy Wilder. His writing became more literary after World War II, and though he wrote prolifically until his death, Cain remains most famous for his early work.

Reviews

“Nobody else has ever quite pulled it off the way Cain does, not Hemingway, and not even Raymond Chandler. Cain is a master of the change of pace.” —Tom Wolfe

“A poet of the tabloid murder.” —Edmund Wilson.

“No one has ever stopped reading in the middle of one of Jim Cain’s books.” —Saturday Review of Literature


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