Books: Dingy Storyteller

THREE OF A KIND—James M. Cain—Knopf ($2.50).

It is popularly supposed that people go right on reading the thrillers of James M. Cain (The Postman Always Rings Twice, Serenade) through five-alarm fires and the sudden inheritance of large blocks of stock. This is very nearly true. Cain's appeal is partly sheer narrative skill—and partly the fact that he is one of the world's most vivid tellers of dingy stories.

His latest exhibition consists of three long short tales—hissing with suspense and detonating in surprise endings—on a guaranteed, all-weather theme: what happens (lust at first...

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