According to a press release from Hard Case, James M. Cain was working on revisions to The Cocktail Waitress close to the time of his death in 1977. Author Max Allan Collins (Bye Bye, Baby, Road to Perdition) first told Hard Case Crime editor and co-founder Charles Ardai about the book nine years ago. Ardai spent the time since first tracking down the original manuscript, then arranging for the rights to publish the book.
“Together with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler,” says Ardai, “James M. Cain is universally considered one of the three greatest writers of noir crime fiction who ever lived, and for fans of the genre, The Cocktail Waitress is the Holy Grail. It’s like finding a lost manuscript by Hemingway or a lost score by Gershwin--that’s how big a deal this is.”
From the press release:
Combining themes from Mildred Pierce and The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Cocktail Waitress tells the story of a beautiful young widow, Joan Medford, whose husband died under suspicious circumstances. Desperate to make ends meet after his death, she takes a job as a waitress in a cocktail lounge, where he meets two new men: a handsome young schemer she falls in love with, and a wealthy older man she marries.The book will be published in hardcover and electronic editions in 2012, with a paperback edition available the following year. Fans of The Rap Sheet will be waiting for the icing: Like all of this outfit’s novels, Hard Case Crime will commission a new cover illustration in classic pulp style.
“Why am I taping this?” Joan narrates. “It’s in the hope of getting it printed to clear my name of the charges made against me…of being a femme fatale who knew ways of killing a husband so slick they couldn’t be proved. Unfortunately, they cannot be disproved either… All I know to do is to tell it and tell it all, including some things no woman would willingly tell …”
Our biggest complaint? It’s just too long to wait!
READ MORE: “James M. Cain Discusses The Cocktail Waitress,” by Cullen Gallagher (Pulp Serenade); “How Charles Ardai Picked Up a Cocktail Waitress,” by Duane Swierczynski (Secret Dead Blog); “Discovering James M. Cain--Again: Guest Post by Andrew McAleer” (Mystery Fanfare).