The Postman Always Rings Twice is one of the first American classic crime noir novels. I probably wouldn't have picked this book up as soon as I did if it weren't for the Smooth Criminal challenge. I wouldn't say classic American crime is something I gravitate toward all that often, which is one of the main reasons I joined this challenge - to expand my reading horizons! Even though this was published in 1934, the novel reads like it could have been written within the last decade. Frank, a onetime criminal and longtime drifter, finds himself in a suburb of LA and takes a job at a roadside diner, on account of the Greek owner's knockout of a wife, Cora. (Even though she has dark hair, she's not Mexican you guys.) Frank and Cora are quickly drawn to each other and decide they must get rid of the "greasy" Greek in hopes of living happily ever after. What follows is a series of events that go from bad to worse.
This book is known for its violence and eroticism, and was even banned in Boston upon its publication. I rather enjoyed the bits of sexual violence Cain included - they weren't over the top (by today's standards, anyway) but proved to be just enough to keep my interest piqued. And the end! Let's just say I was quite satisfied. The novel as a whole examines the animal instincts of man and the amoral nature of human kind.
I'm still not certain what exactly constitutes a book as noir, but having read a few I'm starting to get a better idea. Postman is a slim novel that I enjoyed reading. Overall the book is well-paced, brutal, and altogether thrilling.
I read this book for the Smooth Criminals challenge, fulfilling a noir classic.
Publisher: Vintage, 1934