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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not His Best
I was glad to get my hands on a copy of this at a local bookshop as I have been meaning to read this since I was first emailed to say it was being published, by the publishing company. James M Cain wrote some of the classics in the genre, as well as some not very good ones, and although this is nowhere near his best it is still quite a good read. It is worth reading the...
Published 11 months ago by M. Dowden

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite hardboiled but definitely not softboiled
I last read the Cain novels back in the 1980s and thoroughly enjoyed them if indeed one can actually "enjoy" a Cain novel as he takes you on a journey into the dark side of the human psyche. So therefore I was naturally very excited to learn about this final novel.

First and foremost I love the evocative hardboiled cover. However the book itself is...
Published 3 months ago by Retroman


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3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite hardboiled but definitely not softboiled, 4 Sep 2014
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I last read the Cain novels back in the 1980s and thoroughly enjoyed them if indeed one can actually "enjoy" a Cain novel as he takes you on a journey into the dark side of the human psyche. So therefore I was naturally very excited to learn about this final novel.

First and foremost I love the evocative hardboiled cover. However the book itself is somewhat slow and laboured. The reader can never be entirely sure Joan Medford fits the role of the classic "femme fatale" and this is possibly due to the the story being written in the first person from her perspective and so inevitably one feels a degree of sympathy for the various situations she keeps finding herself in arguably through no fault of her own. Rather than the scheming predator ruthlessly controlling the men in her life tgo achieve her aim she comes across as a victim at the mercy of men who take advantage of her personal situation for their own advantage .......or is she.....

As for the so called "twist" or shock ending unless I missed something completely any reader of a certain age should have spotted warning bells long before the final page.

So in summary a good read but definitely not Cain at his best. Anyone new to Cain should start with his classics like "The Postman Always Rings Twice" or "Double Indemnity"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not His Best, 21 Jan 2014
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
I was glad to get my hands on a copy of this at a local bookshop as I have been meaning to read this since I was first emailed to say it was being published, by the publishing company. James M Cain wrote some of the classics in the genre, as well as some not very good ones, and although this is nowhere near his best it is still quite a good read. It is worth reading the afterword by Charles Ardai, who edited this, as there were problems with this book. There were a number of drafts as well as scene and dialogue changes that were made by Cain, and Cain also had said that he would probably change the ending of this before it was ever published, showing that he was having problems with writing this; but then of course he died himself and so this was just abandoned.

Told in the first person this is the tale of Joan Medford, from when she buried her first husband, and why they were married, up to just after burying her second husband. Ambiguous to a degree, as we only have Joan's account of what happens, it has to be said that you really have to decide whether Joan is a femme fatale, or just a very unfortunate lady. This on the whole does make for a good enough read, but unlike Cain's masterpieces this is rather a baggy affair, and it lacks his sparkle and darkness; instead it reads more loosely and not hard boiled. You can in fact see influences from other books of his coming into play in this one.

On the internet and with some reviews that you come across you see mention of a shock ending, but is it? I don't know how young you would have to be not to see what is likely to happen next as we read the last words of the story. It is good to have this to add to a Cain collection, or for your pulp crime collection, but if you are coming to Cain for the first time, then really I would say go for one of his classics, such as `The Postman Always Rings Twice', `Double Indemnity', or `Mildred Pierce'.

Although not his best this is still an interesting read and possibly would be a good choice for a book group, as you can then have a good discussion about what you think of Joan and her story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked his other books better, 10 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Cocktail Waitress (Hard Case Crime) (Hardcover)
As a huge fan of James Cain - Mildred Pierce and The Postman Always Rings Twice are two of my favourite books - I enjoyed The Cocktail Waitress, but not quite as much as I wanted to.

There's something about Joan that I couldn't like. She's had a tough time; her drunken husband has been killed and one particularly diligent police officer is convinced that she is responsible. She's penniless and friendless, and she's trying to get her child back from her sister-in-law. She takes a job earning money the only way she can, working as a cocktail waitress. Her cynical, older workmate Liz hints that there are ways of subsidising her wages by granting favours to customers, and although Jean has no lack of suitors she retains her sense of morality.

An elderly wealthy man falls in love with her and offers her the chance of a life of luxury and the means of getting back her child, but Jean cannot love him. Attracted to a younger man, she is torn between what to do for the best. Her choice leads to tragedy, and the book ends with a cruel sting in the tail - not entirely unpredictable to anybody who was around in the 1960s.

For all that Joan is deserving of sympathy and admiration, even Cain's writing does not compensate for the fact that I could not warm to any of the characters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars AN OLD SCHOOL MYSTERY..., 27 May 2014
By 
Greggorio! (Amazing Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Cocktail Waitress (Hard Case Crime) (Hardcover)
By the time the reader gets to the end of chapter five of this already classic hard case crime novel, they may find themselves more emotionally attached to Joan Medford than they may like. Her story of an abusive and drunk husband, who used to beat her and her child is enough to turn anyone’s stomach, but can we really trust what she says about the night her husband died? The more you read of this fascinating life story come riveting murder mystery the more you find yourself compelled and fascinated by what is being revealed. Indeed, when the police tell her out of kindness that the investigation into her husband’s death has not been formerly closed by the police, the hair on the back of your neck will stand up and you will fight the urge to emit a rather smug, ‘harrumph’ to the room you find yourself in.

The characterisation used by Mr Cain in this novel is outstanding. The story itself is very deep and with every chapter comes a plot twist which adds further depth to the delightful story telling. Humour in this tale has no role to play – indeed, it would be totally out of place. The book is gripping and at times, painfully said when you consider the family situation the narrator of the book has experienced. But she can certainly stand up to her foes and protect herself, so one wonders what she would do if something arose which threatened the welfare of her little boy. One wonders, indeed.

Anyway this book is pure class. Literally, the hardcover is a thing of beauty. It is immaculately presented, perfectly printed with the perfect amount of white space on each page. The print size is perfect for the paper and so it is one of the best looking hardcovers I have had the pleasure of reading. And the story itself is good enough to change the direction of your reading patterns for the new few weeks, and that is recommendation enough in its own right. An obvious four stars from me.

BFN Greggorio!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read, 6 Mar 2014
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Having read four of his other books, I came upon this by accident.

Well written and just what you would expect from the author.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Old master, 21 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Cocktail Waitress (Hard Case Crime) (Hardcover)
I was a little nervous about ordering this book because James M. Cain is one of my Top 5 old masters of the genre. My worry was that it would not reach my expectations. Well, I need not have worried. Excellent story telling and not in the least dated. I am happy to say that the author keeps his place in my Top 5. Comfortably-
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wish I liked it, 3 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Cocktail Waitress (Hard Case Crime) (Hardcover)
My expectations for this one was very high. This is one of the three giant authors of hard-boiled crime fiction if we are to believe Charles Ardai. The Other two are Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. With a statement like that it is no surprise that your expectations are high.

The Book was never published by Mr Cain but has been found many years later. It was written in 1975 but are published for the first time 2012, 37 years later. My biggest surprise reading it was that it felt like it was written in 1955 or earlier and not in 1975. Maybe Mr Cain, who was 83 years old in 1975, was not really living in that era but got stuck several decades earlier. Nothing wrong with that but the book feels old and the way of writing including how the main characters behave is certainly not representative of the flower power - free love generation.

The Story is about a young mother, 21, who recently became a widow and how she is struggling to get back on her feet. It is written from a first person perspective and you get to know the way she thinks and reacts. One has to ask how Mr Cain, 83, can write about a young woman, 21, and really hope to make it believable. I am just not accepting his version of her.

For several reasons the woman is involved in three deaths and the story moves along with how she is coping with that. There are gaps in the story were you wonder what happened with this or that but in total the story moves along at a slow pace. There is nothing really exiting about it and it is hard to engage in her situation since most of her problems are solved fairly rapidly. One example is that a rich man comes along and just gives her 50 000 dollars and that takes care of her economical problems. In fact the whole book feels like a black and white movie with B actors and slow manuscript that if it was on the TV would make you switch channels.

Mr Cain is known to put sex into his stories (he wrote "The Postman always rings twice") but here there is almost nothing and the few lines that do deal with this might have been provocative in 1955 but certainly not by 1975. By 1975 the pill had been legal in the US for 15 years (not to mention other contraceptives) so why this girl twice get into problems is just not believable.

I wish I could get as exited as Mr Ardai about this book but I can't. It is just not that good. This one should not be on the same shelf as the works of Mr Hammett and Mr Chandler.
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The Cocktail Waitress (Hard Case Crime)
The Cocktail Waitress (Hard Case Crime) by James M. Cain (Hardcover - 21 Sep 2012)
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