Customer Reviews for

The Cocktail Waitress

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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  • Posted February 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This was the last book written, at age 83, by James M. Cain, wh


    This was the last book written, at age 83, by James M. Cain, who died in 1977, the man who penned such classic, unforgettable novels as Mildred Pierce and The Postman Always Rings Twice, and one never before published. And kudos to Hard Case Crime for doing so now, nearly four decades later, for it is a fitting conclusion to the man’s oeuvre. Along with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, he helped create the noir genre, with this a typical example.

    The first-person narrator, Joan Medford, twenty-one years old, is burying her husband on page one of the book. The abusive drunk had crashed into a culvert headwall one night at 70 miles an hour, leaving her with a small boy to raise, alone and penniless. [In those days, there were few resources for a teenage girl who found herself pregnant, and many ‘shotgun weddings’ were the result, of which this had been one.] His family had never liked her, and her husband’s sister, herself unable to have children, covets Tad, Joan’s adorable three-year-old boy, and readily agrees to care for him while Joan attempts to get a job to keep a roof over their heads, and immediately gets one working as a cocktail waitress in a nearby restaurant/tavern/”ginmill” in Hyattsville, Maryland [a better scenario than mowing lawns, her next choice.]

    One is quickly orientated to the time frame when a tonic on the rocks ordered by her first customer costs 85 cents. And initially the writing seems dated as well, but once the reader gets into rhythm of the book, its pleasure derives from much more than nostalgia.

    That new customer, Earl K. White III, is just one of two men Joan meets her first day on the job. He is an older man, a wealthy widower, kind and generous though nearly repulsive to her. The second is a hunky young man who has dreams but no resources. They are both immediately enamored of her, and the descriptions of her seductive appearance in her “uniform” which arouses such reactions are made dramatically, and graphically, clear in the wonderful, and wonderfully evocative, cover art. She is confronted by a choice between love/lust or a chance at a comfortable, respectable life for her and her adored son. There is a hint of sinister events to come, with a cop who is not satisfied with a verdict of accidental death and harbors suspicions of murderous intent. The novel has an ending straight out of the arsenal of this author of Double Indemnity, which the reader won’t see coming. The book is hard to put down, and is recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2013

    I read and loved this book, as I loved all by this author. I'm

    I read and loved this book, as I loved all by this author. I'm trying to pin down the time setting. I read somewhere that it was the early 60's. It can't be before 1964, as the main character, Joan, mentions Kennedy Airport. That airport was called Idlewilde previously, and was renamed Kennedy Aiirport after President Kennedy's assassination at the end of 1963. Television is mentioned, also. So it can't be the earlier time period of most of Cain's other novels. Would like to knnow for sure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2012

    So far so good!

    I'm about halfway through and I find this book light, quick reading. This author wrote Double Indemnity, Postman RingsTwice , and this novel follows that vein. It may change by the end but so far I like it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2012

    This time-capsuled novel is a gem!

    James M. Cain, who wrote The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, was a master craftsman, and a whiz at plotting. I'm only part way through The Cocktail Waitress, but am enthralled with Joan, the main character, and the 1930s world she inhabits in a Maryland subburb of Washington DC. The prose is as comfortable as a favorite house slipper, but the "reveals" in the plot are dazzling. This brand new book from a long-dead writer is a winner!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2013

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