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Lost Novel by James M. Cain

Published on 21 September, 2011

Authored by Titan Books

Hard Case Crime Discovers Lost Novel by Author of Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce,  and The Postman Always Rings Twice.

New York, NY; London, UK (September 19, 2011) – Hard Case Crime, the award-winning line of mystery novels published by Titan Books, today announced the discovery of a lost crime novel written by James M. Cain, author of such classics as Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, and The Postman Always Rings Twice.  The new novel, The Cocktail Waitress, has never before been published.  Hard Case Crime will bring the book out in Fall 2012.

The Cocktail Waitress was the final book written by Cain, who died in 1977.  He was working on revisions to the novel until close to the end of his life; handwritten notes and edits appear in the margins of numerous pages.  Charles Ardai, founder and editor of Hard Case Crime, first learned of the book’s existence from Max Allan Collins, author of Road to Perdition, and has spent more than nine years tracking down the author’s original manuscript and arranging to get the rights to publish the book.  

“Together with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain is universally considered one of the three greatest writers of noir crime fiction who ever lived, “ said Ardai, “and for fans of the genre, The Cocktail Waitress is the Holy Grail.  It’s like finding a lost manuscript by Hemingway or a lost score by Gershwin – that’s how big a deal this is.”  

Combining themes from Mildred Pierce and The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Cocktail Waitress tells the story of a beautiful young widow, Joan Medford, whose husband died under suspicious circumstances.  Desperate to make ends meet after his death, she takes a job as a waitress in a cocktail lounge, where he meets two new men: a handsome young schemer she falls in love with, and a wealthy older man she marries.

“Why am I taping this?” Joan narrates.  “It’s in the hope of getting it printed to clear my name of the charges made against me…of being a femme fatale who knew ways of killing a husband so slick they couldn’t be proved. Unfortunately, they cannot be disproved either… All I know to do is to tell it and tell it all, including some things no woman would willingly tell…”

“At his best, Cain was an astonishingly strong writer, not just of great crime novels but of great novels, period,” Ardai said.  Cain’s work is taught in literature programs at numerous major universities and was also the basis of classic films such as Billy Wilder’s adaptation of Double Indemnity, which boasted a screenplay by Raymond Chandler and was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture.  The Postman Always Rings Twice was adapted as a 1946 film starring Lana Turner and then again in 1981 with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange and a screenplay by David Mamet.  Mildred Pierce was adapted earlier this year into a critically acclaimed miniseries on HBO for which stars Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce both won Emmy Awards.

The Cocktail Waitress will be released initially in hardcover and e-book editions, with a paperback edition to follow in 2013.  Like all of Hard Case Crime’s titles, the book will feature a new cover painting in the classic pulp style.