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The Baby in the Icebox and Other Short Fiction

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Two murderers, the head of their victim, and a frozen creek... Lucky, the hobo, concocts the perfect alibi... The tiger in the kitchen, the baby in the icebox... These are the elements of three stories highlighted by the streamlined prose, concise plots, and unique voice that also distinguish James M. Cain's classic novels Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice. Two murderers, the head of their victim, and a frozen creek... Lucky, the hobo, concocts the perfect alibi... The tiger in the kitchen, the baby in the icebox... These are the elements of three stories highlighted by the streamlined prose, concise plots, and unique voice that also distinguish James M. Cain's classic novels Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice. As Roy Hoopes points out in his incisive Introduction, James M. Cain wrote best when he wrote succinctly, and this collection proves the point. The short stories, sketches and dialogues, and one novella in this book are filled with people caught in the cold-blooded grip of passion and fate. Every page is written in the crisp, fast-paced, caustically ironic style that made James M. Cain a master of the school of hard-boiled fiction. "An impressive, revealing selection of Cain's journalistic sketches and short fiction" - ALA Booklist "Taken together, the short stories comprise a satisfying companion to Cain's novels." - Publishers Weekly


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Two murderers, the head of their victim, and a frozen creek... Lucky, the hobo, concocts the perfect alibi... The tiger in the kitchen, the baby in the icebox... These are the elements of three stories highlighted by the streamlined prose, concise plots, and unique voice that also distinguish James M. Cain's classic novels Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice. Two murderers, the head of their victim, and a frozen creek... Lucky, the hobo, concocts the perfect alibi... The tiger in the kitchen, the baby in the icebox... These are the elements of three stories highlighted by the streamlined prose, concise plots, and unique voice that also distinguish James M. Cain's classic novels Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice. As Roy Hoopes points out in his incisive Introduction, James M. Cain wrote best when he wrote succinctly, and this collection proves the point. The short stories, sketches and dialogues, and one novella in this book are filled with people caught in the cold-blooded grip of passion and fate. Every page is written in the crisp, fast-paced, caustically ironic style that made James M. Cain a master of the school of hard-boiled fiction. "An impressive, revealing selection of Cain's journalistic sketches and short fiction" - ALA Booklist "Taken together, the short stories comprise a satisfying companion to Cain's novels." - Publishers Weekly

30 review for The Baby in the Icebox and Other Short Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    3.5 stars If James M. Cain wrote nothing else but The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce, his reputation as one of the granddaddies of Noir Lit would be secured. This volume collects sketches, dialogues, short stories and a serial, some of which have never been published. How do they measure up with the more famous stuff? As a whole, not very well. The first third of the book is made up of the aforementioned sketches and dialogues - short pieces and one-act plays. Here 3.5 stars If James M. Cain wrote nothing else but The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce, his reputation as one of the granddaddies of Noir Lit would be secured. This volume collects sketches, dialogues, short stories and a serial, some of which have never been published. How do they measure up with the more famous stuff? As a whole, not very well. The first third of the book is made up of the aforementioned sketches and dialogues - short pieces and one-act plays. Here Cain’s writing style was taking shape; his ability to write in dialects was evolving. He tried to copy the speech patterns of Eastern Shore rural/small town Marylanders (he lived there for awhile) with mixed results. The problem here is that most of the stuff is middling in quality and not very memorable. These pieces would be of scholarly interest to someone who wanted to see Cain’s writing mature over time. The collection of short stories is the strongest part of the book. Some even have been anthologized elsewhere. One of Cain’s favorite themes is the murderer who’s wracked by guilt and feels compelled to confess (Hello, Dostoevsky.) Oh, and the title story is not a homage to Jonathon Swift. There’s even a story here about a kid’s birthday party which is about as far as you can go from noir. It’s like Lou Reed singing a children’s song or Edvard Munch coming up with a connect-the-dots book. Back in the day, magazines published some stories as serials. Double Indemnity was originally a serial. This is no Double Indemnity. The title, Money and the Woman (The Embezzler) is about as exciting as the story. One thing that struck me here is that Cain’s dialogue lacks the punch of some other writers of this genre. You don’t find much in the way of snappy patter and quotable passages like you would with Chandler or Ross MacDonald. And beyond some of the short stories there is really nothing to recommend this volume.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    This is a wonderful collection of various pieces by James M. Cain, perhaps best known for Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice . The book is divided into three sections: Sketches and Dialogues,Short Stories, Serial. Fascinating introductions fill out each section; be sure not to skip these if you read this book. They give a glimpse into the development of a writer's mind, something which I find very interesting. For the Sketches, my favorites were Santa Claus, M.D., in which a man This is a wonderful collection of various pieces by James M. Cain, perhaps best known for Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice . The book is divided into three sections: Sketches and Dialogues,Short Stories, Serial. Fascinating introductions fill out each section; be sure not to skip these if you read this book. They give a glimpse into the development of a writer's mind, something which I find very interesting. For the Sketches, my favorites were Santa Claus, M.D., in which a man regains his belief in Santa Claus in a most unusual manner. It Breathed, based on a true experience Cain had on the battlefield in WWI was intense and poignant. In the Short Story section, another WWI experience contributed to The Taking Of Montfaucon and shows us just how frustrating life on the front must have been. The Girl In The Storm is a gem; as is The Baby In The Icebox, my overall favorite, possibly because of the no-nonsense heroine Lura and the way she handled that tiger. My only regret about reading this book at this point was that it was my fourth or fifth re-read, and the last one was just a year or so ago. I remembered details of the stories after the first few sentences of each one, and I would think Oh, yeah, this is where this, that and the other happens. This is not always a bad thing, because it did make me focus more on the amazing craftsmanship Cain used to tell his tales. As is written in one of the introductions: "...he had developed a style which enabled him to tell a story in about half the space required by the average novelist." Sometimes this is a very good idea, and I was impressed once again by the intensity and atmosphere of Cain's work.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ann Sloan

    I am in awe of James M. Cain. I have read Mildred Pierce, but I don’t think I have read his other very famous novels. Seen the movies, yes, but as those of you have read and seen Mildred Pierce (the original with Joan Crawford) the two have very little to do with the other. Both terrific, but quite different. What has happened to short stories? I am old enough to remember when magazines (wait – you mean I’m old enough to remember magazines!) printed short stories in each issue. By the time I came I am in awe of James M. Cain. I have read Mildred Pierce, but I don’t think I have read his other very famous novels. Seen the movies, yes, but as those of you have read and seen Mildred Pierce (the original with Joan Crawford) the two have very little to do with the other. Both terrific, but quite different. What has happened to short stories? I am old enough to remember when magazines (wait – you mean I’m old enough to remember magazines!) printed short stories in each issue. By the time I came along they were romance stories in the women’s magazines my mother subscribed to; in the 1920’s through the 1940’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Liberty, The American Mercury, The Bookman, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and dozens of pulp magazines published short stories by the very best of contemporary authors. (This is being written on the day we learned that the Washington Post has been sold to Amazon – what’s next? The New York Times??) Maybe we associate short stories with those anthologies we had in school; maybe we just don’t think short stories are cool. They should be popular now. They are perfectly suited for mobile consumption. The iPhone and iPad and other tablets are with their owners all the time, and a story on these devices can be read on a treadmill, in a bank line, on an airplane, wherever the user has a few minutes and wants to be transported to the magical place stories can create. Poe’s definition of the short story remains as true today as when he wrote it: “a story is a thing that can be read in one sitting.” If he were writing today he might rephrase it: “…in one hour on the tread mill.” Roy Hoopes, the writer of the introduction to this collection of short stories and one novella states that Cain was essentially a writer of short fiction. The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity are really novellas, according to Hoopes. Cain himself wrote, “In one respect … it [the short story] is greatly superior to the novel, or at any rate, the American novel.” Cain was from Maryland and most of his early work was placed in the East. He wasn’t successful in selling this fiction and, as a result, taught school, worked as a newspaper reporter, and served in France during WWI. The characters in these stories were “homely characters” who spoke in “ain’ts, brungs, and fittens.” He was good friends with H. L. Mencken, who is regarded as one of the most influential American writers of the first half of the twentieth century. A very controversial figure, Mencken commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians, pseudo-experts, and the temperance movement. He was skeptical of economic theories and particularly critical of anti-intellectualism, bigotry, populism, fundamentalist Christianity, creationism, organized religion, and the existence of God. An outspoken admirer of German philosopher Nietzsche, he was not a proponent of representative democracy, which he believed was a system in which inferior men dominated their superiors. During and after World War I, he was sympathetic to the Germans, and was distrustful of British propaganda. However, he also referred to Adolf Hitler and his followers as "ignorant thugs." Mencken, through his wide criticism of actions taken by government, has had a strong impact on the libertarian movement. Cain followed Mencken’s lead in the essays he wrote for Mencken’s publications. He also started writing successful short fiction. He decided to go to Hollywood where he got a job writing screenplays. He gradually found the West, especially California, appealing. One of the principal forms of recreation in the 1930’s was taking car drives. He and his family took hundreds of trips to the canyons, valleys, beaches, and all the other California attractions. He decided that California was the natural background for his writings. His two greatest influences on his literary style were Ike Newton and Ring Lardner. Ike Newton was a bricklayer who had laid a walk on the campus of Washington College while he talked to twelve-year-old James Cain for hours. Cain later used Ike’s speech to create the dialogue in his stories. One of the most recognizable traits of much of Ring Lardner's writing, both in his columns and in his fiction, is the use of the American slang vernacular. Several of the short stories were truly haunting, making a remarkable impression on me. Many of the stories followed Cain’s basic theme – two people who conspire in committing a crime, but mistrust lead to betrayal. “The Baby in the Icebox” was reminiscent of The Postman Always Rings Twice in that the setting is a gas station, one of the characters is a drifter, and the husband is a jerk. “The Girl in the Storm” is melancholy and ironic. “The Birthday Party” was a poignant coming-of-age tale. Not all the stories have unhappy endings; in fact, the novella Money and the Woman (The Embezzler) went about 180◦ away from the way I thought it was going. This was an excellent collection of first-rate short stories. Please bring back the short story; after reading this book, I am very nostalgic for the genre.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    James M. Cain, hardboiled writer most famous for THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, MILDRED PIERCE, and DOUBLE INDEMNITY, never thought of himself as a gifted writer of long fiction. He thought short works were his forte. Here, selected from pieces written largely (but not exclusively) during the early days of his career, are several examples of just how fine a short fiction writer he was. The earliest works are extremely brief, often just sketches or dramatic essays. As his confidence as a writer James M. Cain, hardboiled writer most famous for THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, MILDRED PIERCE, and DOUBLE INDEMNITY, never thought of himself as a gifted writer of long fiction. He thought short works were his forte. Here, selected from pieces written largely (but not exclusively) during the early days of his career, are several examples of just how fine a short fiction writer he was. The earliest works are extremely brief, often just sketches or dramatic essays. As his confidence as a writer increases, though, (coincidental with his transplantation from East Coaster to West Coaster), Cain really comes into his own. Crime, violence, and the hardbitten life of drifters and grifters are wonderfully revealed and explored in these pieces written with the brassy ring of truth. For the most part, these are wonderful pieces of writing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Karl

    Read this sometime in the 1980's. Contents: • “The Baby in the Icebox,” The American Mercury, January 1933. • “The Birthday Party,” Ladies Home Journal, May 1936. • “Brush Fire,” Liberty Magazine, December 5, 1936 • “Coal Black,” Liberty Magazine, April 3, 1937. • “Dead Man,” The American Mercury, March 1936. • “The Girl in the Storm,” Liberty Magazine, January 6, 1940. • “Joy Ride to Glory.” • “Pastorale,” The American Mercury, March 1928. • “The Taking of Montfaucon,” The American Mercury, June Read this sometime in the 1980's. Contents: • “The Baby in the Icebox,” The American Mercury, January 1933. • “The Birthday Party,” Ladies Home Journal, May 1936. • “Brush Fire,” Liberty Magazine, December 5, 1936 • “Coal Black,” Liberty Magazine, April 3, 1937. • “Dead Man,” The American Mercury, March 1936. • “The Girl in the Storm,” Liberty Magazine, January 6, 1940. • “Joy Ride to Glory.” • “Pastorale,” The American Mercury, March 1928. • “The Taking of Montfaucon,” The American Mercury, June 1929. = NOTE: The British edition (Robert Hale, hc, 1982) adds one story: • The Embezzler. Avon, 1944.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    I can’t think of many – OK, I can’t think of any – books that show the growth of a writer. Sure, you can get some early stuff and some later stuff, but these materials are rarely in one book. And if you’re a fan of James M Cain as I am – and I am guessing you are since you are reading this – then you’ll want to grab this book – you’ll get informative introductions that are just long enough to be interesting, some early material that is actually lots of fun and intriguing, and a couple of handful I can’t think of many – OK, I can’t think of any – books that show the growth of a writer. Sure, you can get some early stuff and some later stuff, but these materials are rarely in one book. And if you’re a fan of James M Cain as I am – and I am guessing you are since you are reading this – then you’ll want to grab this book – you’ll get informative introductions that are just long enough to be interesting, some early material that is actually lots of fun and intriguing, and a couple of handfuls of short stories and a short novel as well – who could ask for anything more?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    I received an electronic advanced reading copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. The name James M. Cain never registered on my radar, although I was already familiar with some of his work: "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and what is often considered the epitome of film noir, "Double Indemnity". Upon opening this I expected more of the same, but was surprised to see a greater variety and depth the Cain's writing and fiction plots/genres. Several days after finishing this and I wish I had I received an electronic advanced reading copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. The name James M. Cain never registered on my radar, although I was already familiar with some of his work: "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and what is often considered the epitome of film noir, "Double Indemnity". Upon opening this I expected more of the same, but was surprised to see a greater variety and depth the Cain's writing and fiction plots/genres. Several days after finishing this and I wish I had more of his work at hand to read, both the original stories that birthed those classic noir films and his other less known output. This particular collection is an excellent primer on the scope of Cain's writing, being split into three sections of form: dialogues, short stories, and one serial novella. Each section is preceded by an introduction to Cain's use of the form, and a general introduction opens the entire collection. These introductory essays are skimmable if you are really just interested in the meat of the fiction, but they are useful in grounding you in why Cain wrote each style of fiction, the merits he viewed in each, and how they were received by critics and fans. Throughout all the forms Cain has two clear strengths. First is creating a clear, compelling conflict or plot, regardless if large-scale like a crime in a film noir, or a simple, brief confrontation in a doorway. Second is his strength in writing dialogue and regional dialects, particularly of working class people. This shines most obviously in the brief dialogues that open this collection, but even within the short stories they dominate, stretching a bit longer, and broken up from time to time with narration describing the setting or actions. Yet, even these narrations, rendered in the first person, are strongly reminiscent of spoken word, a dialogue between the working class narrator, and the reader, who can easily imagine themselves as an unnamed character in the story, listening to a yarn in a diner over a coffee, or bar over beer. In these dialogues and short stories the genre of crime or transgression appears from time to time, but many also do not approach anything as grandiose, focusing instead on small aspects of human emotion or psychology in a pure manner. These are Cain's most literary moments, and the ones (based on the introductions) that he was most proud in writing. What is interesting is that Cain did not set out to write honest, emotional dialogue-laden fiction per se. That is simply the only writing he was able to create that appeared authentic and sincere. He had to become the character and 'act', writing as if he were not Cain at all, but an imagined personality, role playing. The result are stories and dialogues that don't come across as fictions necessarily, but honest, imperfect recollections, most wonderfully perhaps in the story that gives the collection its name. The collection ends with a serial novella, a style that Cain did not have any artistic appreciation for, but simply used to pay the bills, much like a serious actor doing some light, mindless blockbuster. But Cain can't help inject some artistry into the serial, shaping a genre that would translate into the film noir and eventually the French new wave. His serials turned out immensely popular, both with general readers and critics. The serial included was made once into a film that wasn't particularly successful, which I haven't seen, but it does lack the spice and sordidness of "The Postman Always Rings Twice" or the precision and tautness of "Double Indemnity". Nonetheless it is a nice conclusion to the collection, bringing it round to the style of story Cain became most noted for popularly. Although I am interested in reading more of Cain's work, I appreciated the length this collection kept. By the end of the dialogues and starting the still dialogue-laden short stories, that style was beginning to wear on me, much as Cain found it did when trying to use it to such a degree in his novels. By making this a mixture of styles but allowing none to overstay their welcome, this collection found a great pace. The publisher is releasing a lot of Cain's old work in ebook format, so once I obtain an actual reader I'll be checking out some more titles that pique interest.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ladiibbug

    Crime "Noir" Fiction - short stories Thanks to Good Reader Debbie for mentioning this book. An unforgettable, hair raising title -- I HAD to read it, and quickly! In the 1930's and 1940's, James M. Cain wrote "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Double Indemnity", "Serenade" and "Mildred Pierce". I hadn't realized those superb classic movies were originally penned by this author. The stories are OK, a selection from throughout his career. My favorite was "Money and the Woman" (The Embezzler). This wi Crime "Noir" Fiction - short stories Thanks to Good Reader Debbie for mentioning this book. An unforgettable, hair raising title -- I HAD to read it, and quickly! In the 1930's and 1940's, James M. Cain wrote "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Double Indemnity", "Serenade" and "Mildred Pierce". I hadn't realized those superb classic movies were originally penned by this author. The stories are OK, a selection from throughout his career. My favorite was "Money and the Woman" (The Embezzler). This winner has the psychological suspense of "Postman" and "Double Indemnity" (which I've watched 6-8 times). Going now to Listopia to see if Good Reads has a Best Title Ever, and if so, vote for this book!

  9. 5 out of 5

    byAx

    Artigiano dentro Serie di racconti la cui efficacia risiede nel malessere generato dalle angolazioni con le quali Cain riprende le sue storie, i suoi personaggi, così distanti dalle leziosità accademiche, essenziali, loro e le loro azioni, atte a mostrare gente alle prese con i problemi della gente, meno fortunati di alcuni ma più interessanti di altri. Cain, prezioso artigiano.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Finestrelle2020

    Una raccolta di racconti che raccontano un'America amara, travolta da difficoltà economiche e diffidenza sociale, nella quale l'aggressività è il linguaggio più usato. Altri tempi, ma che paiono terribilmente attuali. Una raccolta di racconti che raccontano un'America amara, travolta da difficoltà economiche e diffidenza sociale, nella quale l'aggressività è il linguaggio più usato. Altri tempi, ma che paiono terribilmente attuali.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    James M. Cain fans should be thrilled to catch his shorter works like "Joy Ride", "The Girl In The Storm", and the terrific "Money And The Woman aka The Embezzler". There's some real gems here! James M. Cain fans should be thrilled to catch his shorter works like "Joy Ride", "The Girl In The Storm", and the terrific "Money And The Woman aka The Embezzler". There's some real gems here!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kelly

    Valuable for the insights provided by Cain's own words regarding why he made the choices he did regarding style and the forms he chose for his works. Provides a lot of interesting detail regarding his career in Hollywood. The stories "Pastorale" and "The Baby in the Icebox" prefigure themes and characters Cain would later develop more fully in THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE and DOUBLE IDEMNITY. I think Cain was a bit of a cipher to his contemporaries and other than the two previously mentioned w Valuable for the insights provided by Cain's own words regarding why he made the choices he did regarding style and the forms he chose for his works. Provides a lot of interesting detail regarding his career in Hollywood. The stories "Pastorale" and "The Baby in the Icebox" prefigure themes and characters Cain would later develop more fully in THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE and DOUBLE IDEMNITY. I think Cain was a bit of a cipher to his contemporaries and other than the two previously mentioned works and MILDRED PIERCE, he remains somewhat mysterious today in regards to his place in American literature. This collection includes "Sketches and Dialogues" (magazine and newspaper pieces) as well as short stories and the novella "Money and the Woman" (apa "The Embezzler"). They reveal Cain's range as a writer and although they are not all gems, his work is always interesting (non-formulaic and distinct from work to work). This collection and the accompanying commentary will be useful to anyone attempting to understand the man and his work.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robert Mayer

    Almost gave it two stars. It's a compendium of Cain's short stories, which includes far more than his Noir works. The inclusion of his early works about life in the rural mid-Atlantic area weigh the anthology down a bit, as it's clear Cain was finding his way. The reliance on rural dialects may have worked then, but it gets tedious at times. As his biographer notes, his real popularity picked up when he started focusing on the darker side of living in California, particularly with settings in ru Almost gave it two stars. It's a compendium of Cain's short stories, which includes far more than his Noir works. The inclusion of his early works about life in the rural mid-Atlantic area weigh the anthology down a bit, as it's clear Cain was finding his way. The reliance on rural dialects may have worked then, but it gets tedious at times. As his biographer notes, his real popularity picked up when he started focusing on the darker side of living in California, particularly with settings in rural California or with homeless protagonists trying to get by with or without the CCC. In this case, the quality of the stories do as well. He starts to rely less on straight dialogue and works more on description and action. The title story is not as gruesome as it sounds, but could be considered the type of story that put Cain on the map among Noir writers. Based on what I've read, I would probably not rank him as high as Hammett, Chandler, or Woolrich/Irish.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    James M. Cain represents an interesting variation in the world of hard-boiled short fiction. Instead of creating whodunits, he concentrated how people get themselves into jams and are overwhelmed by circumstances. His The Baby in the Icebox and Other Short Fiction is a collection of men and women who get into fixes. There are no detectives to provide a moral on the action; rather we get a picture of not too bright Americans who wind up in hells of their own making. The best story by far is the t James M. Cain represents an interesting variation in the world of hard-boiled short fiction. Instead of creating whodunits, he concentrated how people get themselves into jams and are overwhelmed by circumstances. His The Baby in the Icebox and Other Short Fiction is a collection of men and women who get into fixes. There are no detectives to provide a moral on the action; rather we get a picture of not too bright Americans who wind up in hells of their own making. The best story by far is the title story of this collection.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marty

    This is a collection of short works of James M. Cain. He is the author of the stories on which the films noir "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Double Indemnity", and "Mildred Pierce" are based. The small biography of him in the prologue was interesting, but I didn't find the stories to be so. They start with a number of dialogs, which are four page conversations. It seemed like a writer's exercise to practice writing in various local vernaculars. After that was a number of short stories, gener This is a collection of short works of James M. Cain. He is the author of the stories on which the films noir "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Double Indemnity", and "Mildred Pierce" are based. The small biography of him in the prologue was interesting, but I didn't find the stories to be so. They start with a number of dialogs, which are four page conversations. It seemed like a writer's exercise to practice writing in various local vernaculars. After that was a number of short stories, generally about twenty pages in length. I didn't find the first two very interesting, so I gave up.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

    I had read some of Cain's fiction before but had never read his dialogue pieces before. I found them to be interesting but was definitely more drawn to the longer works. Will be looking for more to read soon. I had read some of Cain's fiction before but had never read his dialogue pieces before. I found them to be interesting but was definitely more drawn to the longer works. Will be looking for more to read soon.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joanna’s Reading Rainbow

    There were just too many mistakes. How did the baby not freeze? How did the baby breathe? How did the cheat not overheat during the fire and cook the baby? I just couldn’t get past the holes in the plot.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Otillaf

    Un piccolo gioiello dell’hardboiled americana

  19. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Collected short and not-so-short pieces with informative introductions by Roy Hoopes. These stories, while grounded in their time and place, are concurrently timeless and universal expositions on humanity and the human condition. A passage of particular note in "The Taking of Montfaucon" is one of the most moving descriptions of the battlefield experience I've ever read. "The first [dead man:] we seen was in a trench, kind of laying up against the side,what was on a slant. And he was sighting d Collected short and not-so-short pieces with informative introductions by Roy Hoopes. These stories, while grounded in their time and place, are concurrently timeless and universal expositions on humanity and the human condition. A passage of particular note in "The Taking of Montfaucon" is one of the most moving descriptions of the battlefield experience I've ever read. "The first [dead man:] we seen was in a trench, kind of laying up against the side,what was on a slant. And he was sighting down his gun just like he was getting ready to pull the trigger, and when you come to him you opened your mouth to beg his pardon for bothering him. And then you didn't."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Castagna

    His novels and serials, the Embezzler included in this anthology, are amazing. His shorter fiction leaves me feeling unfulfilled. I would highly recommend any of his novels, or at least the most famous ones, such as Postman, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, etc. The titular story in this anthology was made into a movie as well, but the story is farfectched and borders on ridiculous. Stick with his longer works and you wont be disappointed.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Phillip Frey

    This is a book of short stories. I bought the hardcover. Never having read any of Cain's short stories it was a pleasure for me. Most were written before he wrote his first novel, "The Postman Always Rings Twice." The stories are not as impressive as his better known novels. I gave this book 4 stars because they're written clearly, clear and simple, which makes for a lesson in writing for writers. This is a book of short stories. I bought the hardcover. Never having read any of Cain's short stories it was a pleasure for me. Most were written before he wrote his first novel, "The Postman Always Rings Twice." The stories are not as impressive as his better known novels. I gave this book 4 stars because they're written clearly, clear and simple, which makes for a lesson in writing for writers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    M. Newman

    This book of short fiction (short stories, dialogues and a novella) was ok but disappointing to me as Cain is one of my favorite authors. Like "Sinful Woman" which I read and reviewed recently, it can't hold a candle to Cain's classics. I don't consider this book noir which may be one reason that I was disappointed. This book of short fiction (short stories, dialogues and a novella) was ok but disappointing to me as Cain is one of my favorite authors. Like "Sinful Woman" which I read and reviewed recently, it can't hold a candle to Cain's classics. I don't consider this book noir which may be one reason that I was disappointed.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vicki Cline

    Some short stories, even shorter sketches, and one serialized novella. Many are in the first person, the narrator being an uneducated hick, you should pardon the expression. The assortment gives you an indication of life during the Depression and soon after.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    On page 68

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I remember finishing this collection very quickly and realizing just what a masterful storyteller James Cain was

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    One star for The Embezzler, the serial at the end, one for the title story, and one for good luck. Some of the shorter stuff just ain't as good. One star for The Embezzler, the serial at the end, one for the title story, and one for good luck. Some of the shorter stuff just ain't as good.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    For hardcore noir fans, this book is a delight. Lots of stories by Cain that I was not aware of. Not all are great, but all are worth a read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joe Noir

    Like cold, sharp diamonds followed by shots of tequila.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marley

    Nice review of the art of writing. Do people even write this kind of stuff today?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Guillermo Galvan

    This book sucked.

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