After reading Double Indemnity earlier this year, I wanted to read The Postman Always rings twice by James M. Cain published in 1934 considered a Noir Classic. I always wondered what Noir meant. Wikipedia tells me that Noir is the story where the preparator of the crime narrates the story.
The story is narrated by Frank Chambers, a drifter, somebody without any goal or destination. He meets Cora in a run down roadside joint in California. There is instant attraction between them. There are not many descriptions. Frank comes straight to the point without playing with words. He calls her a hellcat. She wants to be free of her Greek husband whom she married because she had no choice. Now she wants to kill him as she has a new choice. They don't mull over to think what is right or wrong. They have no moral rudder. No emotions are involved in their decision, they are quite matter of fact in their approach. They decide to kill Cora's husband Papadakis. They come with an idea and execute their plan. Will Cora and Frank be successful in their attempt?
She wants to stay, he wants to run and the story flows from their character. A real big cat also makes an appearance. The trick the lawyer plays is ingenious. At 116 pages it is an explosive fast read which I read in a couple of hours. The plot of double Idemnity is narrated in a paragraph about insurance in this story.
I am always interested in the why. Why someone did a crime? That's why I like Ruth Rendell's book, they are called the 'whydunits'. When the preprator narrates the story, you would know why, wouldn't you? Or would you? Oh! And it is all so real. Is this how real people go about commiting crime, thoughtless and bumbling!
I read somewhere that The Postman Always Rings Twice inspired Albert Camus to write The Stranger. I didn't know about it until I finished the book, I didn't see the similarities between Mersault and Frank Chambers while reading. Now I do see. They are so matter of fact without any emotions- Existential is the word, isn't it?
I haven't seen the movie, would love to watch it. My post for Crime Fiction Alphabet P.