Hard Case Crime has been issuing–or should I say, reissuing–novels with a retro pulp fiction look. This particular book, released in 2012, is touted as a lost final novel by James M. Cain, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and Mildred Pierce.
Cain’s name should be well-known to mystery fans and film noir lovers alike. He’s known for creating love triangles, where murder is often considered a convenient solution. And this description from the book’s jacket certainly describes a plot setup similar to Cain’s previous works:
“Forced to take a job waitressing to support herself and her child, Joan finds herself caught between the handsome young schemer whose touch she come to crave and the wealthy older man whose touch repels her… but who otherwise would make a tempting husband number two.”
So which man’s hand is seen on the cover? It would seem to be more likely the younger man’s hand based on appearance. Unless it’s some random customer. Whoever it is, wow, is he a chain smoker!
One wonders where the titular cocktail waitress is working. Based on her outfit, it would seem to be some sort of seedy gentleman’s club. Another question is raised by the arched eyebrow. Depending on one’s interpretation, the redheaded Joan appears peeved by something or someone off-cover so to speak.
It all blends together to form a seductive cover. The booze, the smoke, and the dame … staples of the noir genre.
Credit for the cover painting is given to Michael Koelsch, © 2012. The Hard Case Crime logo, something to be on the lookout for in the mystery genre section of libraries or bookstores, is a trademark of Winterfall LLC. Hard Case Crime as an imprint was founded in 2004 by Charles Ardai. The first book released was Lawrence Block’s Grifter’s Game.
How do we choose what we read? Reviews? Word of mouth? Familiarity? Or by its cover? Follow along as The Poisoned Martini takes a look at book covers that catch the eye in the ongoing “By Its Cover” feature. And for a look at more classic and contemporary book covers, check out my sister site, The Poisoned Martini+, for a more visual approach to looking at the mystery and fantasy genres.