Titan Books has recently released the last novel ever written by legendary pulp fiction author James M. Cain as part of their “Hard Case Crimes” series. The Cocktail Waitress, a pulp era tail of young widow Joan Medford who after the “accidental” death of her abusive, alcoholic, husband is compelled to work as a cocktail waitress. Skimpy outfit and all. Of course life doesn’t get better for Joan after finding work. Her young son is in the custody of her vindictive sister in-law; A wealthy customer has tipped her $50,000 with subtle expectations; and the man she is most attracted to might just end up costing Joan her home.
Okay, up until now I’ve only been familiar with Cain’s work through the film adaptations. Jame M. Cain was the original author of The Postman Always Rings Twice,
Which was also turned into a movie starring Fred McMurray and Barbara Stanwyck. Both are excellent films, however, I don’t think you have to go back and read Cain’s other books (or watch films based on those books) to enjoy this one. The Cocktail Waitress does an excellent job of pulling the readers into the world of Dames and cocktail lounges as told through the first person narrative of Joan Medford. With stunning cover art and an afterwards feature by Hard Case Crime editor,Charles Ardai, I really do feel fans of the pulp fiction genre will enjoy Cain’s last work.
There is just one last thing I want to point out about The Cocktail Waitress. A thought that came to me towards the end of the book when Joan is in deep trouble. And, I’ll admit, this thought is echoed by Charles Ardai in his feature at the end of the book, but I came up with the thought on my own and for some reason it’s important to me that other people know that. Okay, so here’s the thought: What if she did it all? I know many of you haven’t read the book and that won’t mean anything until you do, but the whole story is told through Joan’s point of view. Which means we’re only getting her side of what happened. Maybe she’s not the innocent young lamb she makes her self out to be. I’m trying real hard not to spoil anything here, but we all know women can’t be trusted (well so far as my experiences with women have taught me…) and Joan is the smartest person in the book. I think she did it, but read The Cocktail Waitress yourself and let me know what you think really happened.