Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Complete Crime Stories by James M. Cain

A man uses a tiger to try and murder his wife, a young code clerk falls for a beautiful bookie, a bank executive caught in a web of deceit. These are only a few of the exciting stories in this collection of Crime Fiction by the master James M. Cain.

James M. Cain has written some of the great crime novels of our time. Works like The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity still stand out as masterpieces of Crime fiction. These seventeen stories are a mixed bag. Cain is an excellent writer so there are no bad stories here. Some are better than others. Even though this is called Complete Crime Stories not all of the stories are crime stories, but they are all enjoyable. Cain had an amazing ability to pull you in to the story in just a few short words. There are some real gems here. One of my personal favorites is the classic “The Baby in the Icebox.”  In just a few short pages we have adultery, attempted murder, and tigers. Many of the stories have characters falling impossibly in love. Sometimes they have relationships falling completely apart.

Cain’s spare prose and often realistic look at human nature would make him one of the great influences on Elmore Leonard. The short story is one of the literary forms where American authors tend to shine the brightest. When reading these stories you can really see how Cain was a true master of the short story.

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