Apparently, this is a "lost novel" by Cain
, which was only unearthed, edited, and published some 35 years after his death. I'd read some Cain previously, and very much loved Mildred Pierce
. While, The Postman Always Rings Twice
was ok, it wasn't all that special. I've yet to find Double Indemnity
on kindle in a local library (now I have, and it's on hold). Anyway, I got this book thanks to my new library card with the Woburn Public Library, and it was great. Up there with Mildred Pierce
, I think.
So, we have a young woman, Joan Medford, relating her experiences in the few years after her abusive husband, Ron, killed himself by driving into a bridge abutment (I think it was that, something hard anyway). Ron was a chronic drunk and an abusive husband and father. He routinely beat up Joan and their son, Tad, who was 3-years old at the time of the telling.
It seems that Ron's sister, Ethyl and her husband Jack, covet Joan's son, Tad. Ethyl had a medical problem and is sterile. Ethyl and Jack take Tad off with them, because Joan must find a job to support herself and Tad. But Ethyl also wants to make the caretaking of Tad permanent, so begins a whispering campaign to the police that Joan slipped something into Ron's last drink, implying that Ron was actually murdered.
One of the two cops investigating the case is desperate to pin the murder on Joan, the other gives her a tip as to how to find a job. He suggests she head down to the Garden of Roses and ask Bianca, the proprietress, for a job. Bianca starts to make Joan a waitress, but Liz, in the bar sees that Joan would be a hit in the bar. In the bar, they wear skimpy clothes, showing lots of leg and cleavage, and the better the leg and cleavage, the better the tips. Joan has the most amazing set of gams in creation, or something like that. She becomes an instant hit, and both Liz and she prosper.
Well, she makes the acquaintance of Walter K. White III, a widower, who is richer than Midas and who takes rather a shine to Joan. He wants to do something "nice" for Joan. She also meets Tom Barclay, who is so handsome that he gets her motor running, so to speak. But Walter has money, and that money would be a great help in getting Tad away from Ethyl. Tom has animal magnetism, but little money. Something like that.
Well, all kinds of things happen, many not so good, but Joan is smart, able to withstand hardship, and a rather interesting character. Then too, those legs! So, if you're into noir fiction at all, this stuff is nectar. If like my spouse, you like cozy "mysteries", with cutesy titles, little reality, and it's mostly tea, muffins, and village greens, then this might not be your cup of tea, so to speak.