The Complete Crime Stories Seventeen gripping tales from one of the toughest authors in the history of crime fiction
They call him Lucky—but he has never had a lucky day in his life. A nineteen-year-old hobo just starting to ride the rails, he is hiding in the coal car when the railroad detective comes through. They get into a scuffle, and Lucky’s hand finds a railroad spike. Before he knows it, he has smashed the investigator’s head and shoved him out of the car. If he hurries, if he’s lucky, he will get back to Los Angeles in time to establish an alibi, burn his clothes, and avoid the electric chair. But as Lucky will discover, the deadliest threat is lurking within his own mind.
“Dead Man” is just one of the outstanding stories included in this volume. The author of some of the most hard-boiled prose ever written, James M. Cain understood fear in all its forms—and knew better than anyone the terror of a killer on the run.
“Nobody else has ever quite pulled it off the way Cain does, not Hemingway, and not even Raymond Chandler. Cain is a master of the change of pace.” —Tom Wolfe
“A poet of the tabloid murder.” —Edmund Wilson
“No one has ever stopped reading in the middle of one of Jim Cain’s books.” —The Saturday Review of Literature
James M. Cain (1892–1977) was one of the most important authors in the history of crime fiction. Born in Maryland, he became a journalist after giving up on a childhood dream of singing opera. After two decades writing for newspapers in Baltimore, New York, and the army—and a brief stint as the managing editor of the New Yorker—Cain moved to Hollywood in the early 1930s. While writing for the movies, he turned to fiction, penning the novella The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934). This tightly wound tale of passion, murder, and greed became one of the most controversial bestsellers of its day, and remains one of the foremost examples of American noir writing. It set the tone for Cain’s next few novels, including Serenade (1937), Mildred Pierce (1941), Double Indemnity (1943), and The Butterfly (1947). Several of his books became equally successful noir films, particularly the classic 1940s adaptations of Mildred Pierce and Double Indemnity. Cain moved back to Maryland in 1948. Though he wrote prolifically until his death, Cain remains most famous for his early work.