Book Review: The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

Postman Always Rings TwiceCome to find out that The Postman Always Rings Twice is not a book about mail.  Initially it was a disappointment as I was reading along and the “postman” played no role in the story.  About halfway through the book, I have to admit, I googled the title to read why the book was named what it was.  The answer I found was interesting enough that I decided to finish the book.   The book is very short and an easy read.  For better or worse the story reads like a script – there is a lot of dialogue and not a lot of descriptive text – better because it was such a quick read, worse because it was written in 1930’s slang and I had to look up some definitions.

The story is about Frank, a drifter, who meets Nick, a restaurant owner who hires him for odd jobs, and beautiful Cora, Nicks wife.  Frank and Cora fall in love and plot to kill Nick so that they can be together.  It’s a crime story with plot twists and a heated love affair, crooked law enforcement officials and blackmail.  Since there is little backstory or description of the setting, it helps if you know the terrain of Southern California.  That said, I did feel the desolation both of the characters but also of the economic desert – a loneliness and desperation that was conveyed through their dialogue. The story moves along quite quickly and has the charm of an old-fashioned novel that doesn’t feel the need to go into graphic details about sex or death.

The book was made into a movie in 1946 starring Lana Turner and James Garfield, and then again in 1981 starring Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson.


Title:              The Postman Always Rings Twice
Author:        James A. Cain
Date:             1934
Pages:           188 pages
ISBN:            none
Difficulty:    1.5-Day*

*I am not a quick reader, and I do have a life that steals my attention away from books, postcards, and mail in general.  Use that as the gauge.

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