The Postman Always Rings Twice

James M. Cain

Illustrated by Patrick Leger

Introduced by Steve Erickson

James M. Cain’s first novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice, was an instant bestseller. This stunning Folio edition includes noirish illustrations by Patrick Leger and a preface by film critic Steve Erickson.

Add To Wish List
‘Nobody has ever pulled it off the way Cain does, not Hemingway, and not even Raymond Chandler.’
  1. Tom Wolfe

James M. Cain was sitting on a park bench by the White House in 1914 when a voice inside him said, ’You’re going to be a writer.’ It was 20 years before his prediction came true but his varied career as a singer, crime reporter and insurance man proved vital to his notorious first novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Based on a real-life murder, the shocking story was an instant bestseller that inspired both fascination and outrage, and was banned in Boston for its plain-speaking portrayal of adultery and homicide. Translated into 18 languages, it epitomises the hardboiled roman noir and is regarded as one of the most important crime novels of the 20th century. In this edition, Patrick Leger’s dramatic illustrations and a preface by novelist and film critic Steve Erickson are perfect accompaniments to Cain’s cinematic prose.

Bound in blocked cloth

Set in Photina

136 pages

Frontispiece and 6 full-colour illustrations

Plain slipcase

9” x 5¾˝

‘A good, swift, violent story.’
  1. Dashiell Hammett

Unlike Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler before him, Cain focuses not on detectives but on ordinary people who become perpetrators: the lonely and lascivious, the greedy and the bored. Indeed, he famously claimed not to write whodunnits but love stories. Here an amoral young drifter tells a brief, brutal tale. Arriving at a roadside diner, Frank Chambers catches a glimpse of sullen, provocative Cora and instantly accepts a job with her guileless husband Nick. Before long, the two are embroiled in a savagely passionate affair. But Nick is a problem that needs fixing and, for the lovers, lust and violence are easy bedfellows. With its sense of impending doom and its moral ambiguity, it’s no surprise that Albert Camus cited The Postman Always Rings Twice as the model for The Outsider. MGM swooped on the novel, recognising the screen potential of its lean prose, quickfire dialogue and short sharp plot. The result was a 1946 film starring Lana Turner, the first of six adaptations.

Born in 1892, James Mallahan Cain had various careers before becoming a successful novelist, journalist and screenwriter. His first novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934; Folio 2012, 2022), was his most successful and well-known. More novels followed, including Double Indemnity (1936), Mildred Pierce (1941) and The Butterfly (1947) and, although Cain became mostly known for his gritty crime fiction, he was also adept at portraying social drama. Cain continued writing and publishing until his eighties.

Patrick Leger is a Brooklyn-based illustrator who studied at East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A narrative illustrator using striking compositions, Leger works on editorial, book, advertising and animation commissions. His clients include The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Penguin, Apple and GQ, and his celebrated work on book covers has seen him commissioned for more than 70 to date.

American novelist Stephen Michael Erickson is the author of a number of novels, including Days Between Stations (1985), Tours of the Black Clock (1989), The Sea Came in at Midnight (1999) and Zeroville (2007). Erickson received the Guggenheim fellowship in 2007, the American Academy of Arts and Letters award in 2010, and the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.  


You May Also Like

  1. Image of A Perfect Spy book

    A Perfect Spy

    John le Carré

    Illustrated by Sam Green


    John le Carré’s extraordinary spy thriller features eight colour illustrations by artist Sam Green, as well as a special illustrated slipcase. The perfect collector’s edition of A Perfect Spy.

  2. Ordeal by Innocence

    Ordeal by Innocence

    Agatha Christie

    Illustrated by Laura Hope


    A glamorous family, unbearable suspense and murder. The Folio edition of this classic mystery from the queen of detective fiction, Agatha Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence is illustrated by Laura Hope.

  3. ,,,,,,,,,,,

    Get Shorty

    Elmore Leonard

    Illustrated by Gary Kelley


    Elmore Leonard’s acerbic rampage through Miami’s underworld and Hollywood’s movie industry is given a much-anticipated Folio production.