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The Postman Always Rings Twice [Hardcover]

James Lee Burke , James M. Cain
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
Price: £6.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

24 Mar 2005
The torrid story of Frank Chambers, the amoral drifter, Cora, the sullen and brooding wife, and Nick Papadakis, the amiable but inconvenient husband, has become a classic of its kind, and established Cain as a major novelist with a spare and vital prose style and a bleak vision of America.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New Ed edition (24 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075286436X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752864365
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James M. Cain was born in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1892. Having served in the US Army in World War 1, he became a journalist in Baltimore and New York in the 1920's. He later worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Cain died in 1977

Product Description


The novel's rattling exuberance makes it impossible to read without becoming physically buzzed (SPIRIT & DESTINY)

Book Description

'Nobody has ever quite pulled it off the way Cain does, not Hemingway, and not even Raymond Chandler' Tom Wolfe

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An truly outstanding novel! 20 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This book, James M. Cain's debut novel, is arguable the finest of its genre and certainly of its period. Whereas previous first person narrative crime novels were seen from the eyes of the law, "The Postman Always Rings Twice" describes the crimes committed from the perpetrator's point of view. The novella moves along at a fast speed and can be read in one sitting. I was gripped by the narrative from the classic opening, through the tumultuous plot right up until the magnificent twist ending. The characters are as realistic and believable as their actions and it becomes easier for the reader to relate to them as the tale progresses. Highly recommended to fans of great crime literature. If only all debuts were this good!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read. 1 May 2002
By ged
This book is brilliant. It's a work of genius. And it is also an unputdownable read of stark simplicity. Cain achieves his breathtaking prose by avoiding adjectives, adverbs, dialogue tags and beats, parenthetical clauses, semicolons and anything that might slow the intravenous injection of the plot. This thing is only 115 pages, but you'll want to keep it forever and read it again and again. Wow! What a book! (Double Indemnity is also good, but not as good as this.)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable 1 Mar 2007
I bought this book, opened it to have a look at the first few pages and was still reading two hours later. Cain immerses you in the plot and builds up tension with minimal use of words and detail. A brilliant thriller by a master of writing. I can't remember the last time a book absorbed me this much.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 16 Aug 2005
This book was first published nearly seventy years ago and makes most modern crime thrillers look like nursery stories. It is adult storytelling at its very best -- needing some maturity and experience to be able to empathise with the plight of the characters. Although little more than a novella, it has the power and effect of a 'big' story. It grips from the first word and refuses to let go, compelling each page to be turned.
The dialogue is brilliantly accurate-- every bit the equal of a modern master like Elmore Leonard -- so snappy that you can hear the characters talking to each other. The story is superbly crafted and so realistically conceived in timing, characterisation and description that the tension that it evokes is the sort that makes you forget where you are and what's going on around you. The ending is chilling.
This is a superb piece of writing. More than simply a classic of its kind, it is a classic of twentieth century literature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still disarmingly fresh after 70 years 12 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have come late to the world of James M Cain, having found him amongst the interviewees in "The Paris Review Interviews, volume 1" itself one of the must-reads of 2007. I'm sure I was not alone in knowing him only by virtue of those novels which have been successfully transposed onto the big screen.

Even allowing for the fact that his style has been much imitated since, his texts still leave the reader reeling from the casual and callous brutality which inhabits the social sub-stratum in which his characters move. Like his contemporary Runyon, with whom he shares a similar style, Cain began life as a journalist and that discipline must be credited for honing his prose as well as serving up the seeds of some of his best stories.

There's even less about postmen in this novel than there is about cuckoos in Ken Kesey's masterwork, Cain instead taking the staple of the love triangle and overlaying a morally empty tragedy of his own making. His crisp, unsparing dialogue moves the story - at 116 pages really a novella - at a fast pace and brings the reader uncomfortably close to the anxieties which spring from his protagonists' criminal escapades.

The age of the story is only betrayed in Cain's attitude towards women and racial minority groups and that aspect of this work only serves to illustrate the speed of progress on that front in the twentieth century.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware the hell-cat 18 Sep 2010
By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE
Hard bolied crime novel set in Depression California. Frank Chambers drifts into Cora Papadakis' life via her 'greasy' husband's roadside grill. There follows an outbreak of animal attraction, animal lust and animal cunning.

No surprise that this was on the edge of censorship as it delves into sado-masochism and murder. Years ahead of its time in style, as much as the racy content.

The Postman rings once but Frank and Cora don't answer. At the second ring Frank must pay. Two besotted people who try to reconcile dramatically different aspirations within their love and lust for each other.

This is an addictive, punchy, single-sitting read. Make sure the flight is long enough or they wont get you off the plane.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 28 May 2014
By Bridgey
This is the second book I have read by the author, the other being Double Indemnity. unlike many other reviewers I have not seen the film and therefore began reading without any preconceived ideas of what to expect.

The novella began exactly as I expected. The sentences short, sharp and direct. This is an author who does not believe in padding out his works. You get the impression that not a single word is wasted. the only other author I have read like this has to be Cormac Macarthy. We follow a drifter (Frank Chambers) who becomes employed at a garage, soon he builds a relationship with Greek owners wife (Cora) and they become lovers. However the relationship with the Greek soon starts to come between them. What follows is a lot of planning, circumstance and suspense by the bucket load.

As with Double Indemnity I found the timescales involved a little unrealistic but this doesn't take anything away from the force of the storyline, and considering the age of the book it still appears extremely fresh. One or two other reviewers have criticised the ending, but I thought I knew what was going to happen but was totally wrong. An amazing read that will stay with me for a long long time. Cain manages to pack more into the 120ish pages that most authors could manage in a 1000 page tome. Can't wait to find some more of his works.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
A classic, a good read at a great price, ideal for my kindle, easy to buy and delivered instantly to my kindle, what's not to like!
Published 4 months ago by Westendboy
4.0 out of 5 stars gripping
Beautifully written, gripping and fast paced. If you like noir them you will love this book! It is a classic
Published 4 months ago by Miss SC Hobson
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful short read
I was surprised at how short this book is but it really pulls a pithy pinch and is most enjoyable. It is fast paced and you can almost hear the characters speaking the words. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Nicky Dorrian
4.0 out of 5 stars Raw, fast, furious
Two famous Hollywood films were made with this title, in 1946 with Ava Gardner as Cora and another in 1981 with Jack Nicholson as Frank, neither of which this reader has seen. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of noir
This is one of the best noir thrillers and, in my opinion, one of the best books of the last century. The writing is first class and the story grips you from the beginning.
Published 8 months ago by Mr. Edward R. Addison
4.0 out of 5 stars Period-feel noir, darkly humorous and with its own twisted morality
I actually think I prefer the film(s). I love film noir, and I think the filmmakers took the best parts of this story and made more of it than its original. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Katy Noyes
5.0 out of 5 stars YOU MADE THE BED, NOW LIE IN IT!

This book is a riveting classic of duplicity, love found, lost, and then found again, even eighty years after its first... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Greggorio!
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Constructed Thriller
A great read and surprisingly graphic considering the era in which it was written. Very true to the film version.
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars The Postmqn Always Rings Twice.
The story is straightforward written in a worh a day Amer English. The characters are drawn with a few significant strokes and the trail ofactions flow easily. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Kanen Ragoonaden
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Roman Noir
This is a fascinating read if you are interested in the evolution of the modern crime novel as the action is views through the eyes of the perpetrator rather than the onvestigator
Published 15 months ago by Mrs.Patricia A Halliwell
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