Books: Season's Ugliest

MILDRED PIERCE—James M. Cam—Knopf ($2.50).

James Mallahan Cain's first novel (The Postman Always Rings Twice) was a tawdry, expert shocker. His second (Serenade) was a highly spiced account of singing and sex in Mexico. His third (Mildred Pierce) is the most interesting of the three. It is about almost ordinary people: a Glendale, Calif, housewife, her husband, her two lovers, her business, her daughter. It is as ugly as Hitler's My New Order, even nearer home, and much more readable.

Mr. Cain's three fascinations are the Laocoönic stranglings of sex, money (or its...

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