The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain

I read Mildred Pierce for my book club a little while ago and loved it, so the fact that I had a couple other Cain works sitting in anthology form turned out to be an excellent thing.

Of course, The Postman Always Rings Twice isn’t really anything like Mildred Pierce. In Mildred, Cain writes a moderately creepy story about the power of especially charismatic people, while in Postman… no, wait, it’s still about the power of especially charismatic people. But here there be MURDERERS. That’s the difference. Not such a big one, really.

Postman is about a drifter fellow who very quickly falls in love (well, lust) with a married woman and just as quickly they are planning her husband’s death. They try once and fail, then try again and succeed, but of course murdering someone isn’t really something you can get away with so easily, especially when an insurance company is involved.

The trial bit is what I think I liked the best… my husband’s in law school so he’s always coming home with very strange hypothetical and real cases, but this one takes the cake, especially in the way the lawyer uses all sorts of lawyer-y tricks that baffle and confuse and amaze me in the end.

I also liked that the narrator turns out to be possibly unreliable (not even definitely unreliable, how cool is that), and also the way the whole ending plays out, from the betrayals to the justice.

But it is a short book (~100 pages), so really you should just go read it.

Recommendation: Not for people who love their characters, but definitely for people who love their plots. Also for budding lawyers who want some true genius to aspire to, but not for those who want to have, like, integrity.

Rating: 8/10
(RIP Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
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Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

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