Interesting book which, although I’d certainly heard of many times, I’d managed to miss reading or seeing the movie (I don’t often go to movies).
by James M. Cain
1946 / 224 pages
read by James Naughton. 3h 16m
rating: A+ / crime – noir
First published in 1943 it’s definitely noir of the Los Angeles variety. Not as good as Raymond Chandler and I won’t compare to other LA detective novels – of which there are many and I’ve not read more than a good sampling. I also think it’s better than other 1940s detective fiction set elsewhere – but again, except for Chandler (my fave).
So it’s hard-boiled in its own way, fast-paced with minimal, no-nonsense dialogue (“Just the facts, Ma’am.”) which seems somewhat racist in places (but wasn’t for that era). There’s a tough guy attitude about the first person protagonist, Walter Huff, who is an insurance agent and actually that’s the case with all the characters except the young adult daughter of a major player. The other fascinating character is the insurance-buying wife of the murder victim.
There’s a twisted plot for a 129-page novel (novella), but it was originally a short story (1936?). It’s been made into several movies and is still not a regular “sale” item on Amazon or Audible.