A classic mystery novel by James M. Cain, published in 1934, which went on to become a classic film noir flick starring Lana Turner (looking amazing as usual) and John Garfield. This was Cain’s first novel of what would be many and is also said to have been the inspiration for Camus’ “The Stranger.” The book is on the list of the Modern Library’s 100 best fiction novels.

Plot: Hitchhiker Frank Chambers wanders into a roadside restuarant in California, which is run by a Greek man and his young wife (Turner). The man offers him a job, and quickly Chambers begins an affair with Turner’s character once he begins working there. The couple long to break free from the place and end up getting themselves into a few cold-blooded activities.

I have yet to read the book, which is said to be very quite sexually graphic for the 1930s, though I saw the movie several years ago and thought it was pretty decent. (Slightly predictable.) The book, however, proved quite influential in its time for crime fiction writers. A re-make, which I have not seen, was made in 1981 and starred Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange.

Other books by James M. Cain include:

Double Indemnity
The Moth
Sinful Woman
For Men Only
The Root of His Evil
The Magician’s Wife