The Cocktail Waitressby James M. Cain
Grieving widow or black widow?
The day Joan Medford buried her husband was a fateful one—because before the day was out she'd meet the two men who would change her life forever. Forced to take a job waitressing to support herself and her child, Joan finds herself caught between the handsome young schemer whose touch she comes to crave and the wealthy/b>
Grieving widow or black widow?
The day Joan Medford buried her husband was a fateful one—because before the day was out she'd meet the two men who would change her life forever. Forced to take a job waitressing to support herself and her child, Joan finds herself caught between the handsome young schemer whose touch she comes to crave and the wealthy older man whose touch repels her…but who otherwise would make a tempting husband number two. It's a classic Cain triangle —brutal and sexual and stark—that can only end in death. But for whom, the guilty…or the innocent?
The final novel written by James M. Cain and never before published, The Cocktail Waitress is a testament to the enduring power of one of the most acclaimed novelists of the twentieth century. The author of unforgettable noir classics such as Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, and The Postman Always Rings Twice, Cain's work remains as impossible to put down today as when first written, and will leave even jaded modern readers breathless.
"entertaining and cleverly plotted" – Editors' Choice, New York Times
"Fittingly for the endpoint of a long and meaningful career, Cain saves his best twist for the very last page of his very last book, a haymaker from the blind side, so carefully finessed and camouflaged through the book as to bring a tear to a glass eye — another writer’s jealous acknowledgment. It is a moment that draws Joan’s world and Cain’s view of desire and consequence into tight focus. One thinks of the author well into his ninth decade, setting down those final passages with a hidden smile and a writer’s certain knowledge that they won’t see this coming. He was right." – New York Times
“I think James M. Cain is one novelist who has something to teach just about any writer, and delight just about any reader. The Postman Always Rings Twice was a work of genius. So it's good news that The Cocktail Waitress, Cain's last novel has finally been published.” – Anne Rice
“Swift and absorbing…pulses with more authentic primal energy than the work of any number of Cain imitators from the 1930s to the present.” – Wall Street Journal
"The Cocktail Waitress was found among his papers after a decade-long search and has never been published…until now. After burying her abusive husband on page 1 of the book, Joan takes a job waitressing to make ends meet, and winds up meeting two new men: a wealthy but repulsive older man and a handsome young schemer who makes her blood boil. Can you have any doubt that things will end badly for one or both of them? No, that’s not a spoiler – it’s a simple statement of fact when you’re talking about a Cain femme fatale, the deadliest species there is." – Huffington Post
"The Cocktail Waitress is a not-to-be missed crime thriller for all Cain fans ... A rare, hardboiled blast from the past." – Shelf Awareness
"It’s easy to fall for a previously unpublished work by Cain, whose oeuvre includes The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) and Double Indemnity(1943). Fortunately, The Cocktail Waitress—which the author sought to complete before perishing in 1977—serves up ample delights (and a few familiar themes). It tells of Joan Medford, a captivating young mother whose abusive hubby has died under odd circumstances, and who then takes a job waiting tables in a dodgy cocktail lounge. There she meets a loaded elderly gent with a bum ticker, Earl K. White III, as well as the grabby, calculating Tom Barclay. She weds White out of pragmatism, rather than passion; but tensions in the continuing relationships between these three players guarantee trouble. We witness the unfolding drama through Joan’s eyes, while wondering what she’s withholding." – Kirkus
"the most important literary event of 2012 ... This book marks the greatest achievement of Hard Case Crime in its short existence ... ranks right up there with anything the author ever wrote in his prime. And in saying that, it is better than a lot of what gets published today ... Cain creates a timeless, claustrophobic nightmare that will rock you long after you put it down ... a noir masterpiece ... THE COCKTAIL WAITRESS is the book of 2012. And Hollywood should take note: this is going to be a great film noir movie someday." – Book Reporter
“This novel will capture you quickly.” “It’s spicy and riveting.” “This is the kind of book that makes people want to read Hard Case Crime. It’s perfect as an introduction to crime novels or as a refreshing new offering from an old favorite.” “You’re definitely going to want to pick up a copy.” – DNM Magazine
"The Cocktail Waitress is another gem for Cain fans - and all lovers of classic noir." – Noir Journal
Books of the year in the Evening Standard (London): "The posthumous publication of James M Cain's The Cocktail Waitress (Hard Case Crime, £16.99) showed the third great noir master – after Hammett and Chandler – as acute on febrile sexuality and dark human urges at the end of his life as he was in Double Indemnity.
“The work is spellbinding and compelling, in the end challenging one’s values, beliefs, and prejudices.” – San Francisco Book Review
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Audio CD
- Product dimensions:
- 5.70(w) x 5.20(h) x 1.50(d)
Meet the Author
One of the most celebrated and notorious crime writers of all time, JAMES M. CAIN launched his career with the publication of two back-to-back masterpieces—The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity—selling millions of copies worldwide and inspiring classic movies. Cain continued with an unmatched run of noir novels including Mildred Pierce which inspired both the Academy Award-winning film starring Joan Crawford and the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries starring Kate Winslet. Cain died in 1977.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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.
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.
Pretty good. This is one of the noir novels - more suspense than mystery.
Will not disappoint a must read
Looking at the cover I noticed that the woman looked alot like Rita Hayworth which swayed me toward the era which the book's time frame was which helped set the mood for the story.I love watching old movies and l loved reading this book.Reading different phrases that were used back then was enjoyable for me.It's rare for me to have a"JAW DROPPING MOMENT"I did not see that one coming at all.You will know exactally what l'm talking about when it happens.One more thing l really admired about Joan is that she didn't take any crap off these(WISE GUYS) (:
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!
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.