Baby In The Ice Box, James M. Cain, Penguin Books, New York, 1984
I have reviewed James M. Cain’s two major works The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity elsewhere in this space. He is justly famous for those little literary potboilers. Not as well known, although they should be, are his short stories that are of the same caliber with the same kind of plot exploration and with quirky little endings, a la O. Henry. The definitive example of this little collection is the title work- Baby In The Icebox. Here we have the inevitable California male drifter of indeterminate morals, the adulterous housewife of vague if intense longings, the seemingly inevitable symbolically meaningful wild cats that populate many of Cain’s works and the intense, almost too intense, sexual stirrings that make the term potboiler very apt. The other stories follow with their own little twists. And hovering just below the surface is a literary examination of class, race and sex in 1930’s America that seldom gets this kind of inspection not matter what period we are in. These will keep you glued to the page, read them.