The Case of the Missing Novel: James M. Cain’s Lost Novel Finally Surfaces After 35 Years


Oh dear, I do love James M. Cain. And I'm pretty fond of Charles Ardai and Hard Case Crime. Here's a story from September, when Ardai released a previously unpublished Cain novelThe Cocktail Waitress.

At the end of chapter two of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice—published in 1934, the same year the Hays Code sanitized Hollywood—a drifter takes a job at a gas station and sees the owner’s wife for the first time. The two find themselves alone for a few minutes. He kisses her, and she begs him—“Bite me! Bite me!”
“I bit her. I sunk my teeth into her lips so deep I could feel the blood spurt into my mouth. It was running down her neck when I carried her upstairs.” What took the Twilight saga 1,700 pages, Cain got to in eleven.
A failed opera singer turned journalist, Cain became infamous for novels like Postman, Double Indemnity and Serenade, where raw lust compels ordinary people to commit extraordinary crimes. By 1950, his best work was behind him, and he spent the next three decades sliding into obscurity. He died in 1977, so alone that he bequeathed his estate to his landlady.