by James M. Cain
“Stealing a man’s wife, that’s nothing, but stealing his car, that’s larceny.”
A rambler gets thrown off the truck on which he’s been sneaking a ride and finds himself at a small restaurant/gas station. He sees the owner’s stunner of a wife and decides to accept a job offer at the establishment. The two fall in love and hatch a plan to kill the husband.
And of course it’s never as easy as that in a good story. Problems jump out of the woodwork, like stray cats, nosy police, bloodthirsty attorneys and especially the traits of the characters themselves. You never really know someone until you’re with them when the pressure’s on, and here we get to know these two.
This thing’s about as tight as it can possibly get, traversing a couple novels’ worth of action in just 35,000 words. It screams from start to finish, and as the darkness descends and justice tries to have its say, it keeps accelerating. This little beauty plays it fast and hard, and it’s no wonder the book became the legend it did.
“God kissed us on the brow that night. He gave us all that two people can ever have. And we just weren’t the kind that could have it. We had all that love, and we just cracked up under it.”