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Three by Cain: Serenade, Love's Lovely Counterfeit, The Butterfly Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Length: 466 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

All three books are written with an enduring view of the dark corners of the American psyche. Cain hammered high art out of the crude matter of betrayal, bloodshed, and perversity.

From the Back Cover

James M. Cain hammered high art out of the crude matter of betrayal, bloodshed, and perversity. These three novels, now published together in one volume, display him at the peak of his form.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1012 KB
  • Print Length: 466 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679723234
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (April 27, 2011)
  • Publication Date: April 27, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004JHYK0Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #476,530 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you're a fan of Cain's prose these three short novels will satisfy. These are quite different from his more famous noir novels(Postman; Double Indemnity) but they still contain his unique brand of hard-boiled writing: minimalist sentences, crisp dialogue, and spare, economical description.

Serenade deals with an American opera singer (Cain trained as an opera singer before turning to journalism) who falls for a Mexican prostitute and brings her illegally back into the states where he begins a meteoric rise to fame, until something goes horribly wrong.

Love's Lovely Counterfeit is a tale of small town crime. A solid thriller.

The final novel, The Butterfly, is the most unique as it deals with the subject of incest in a West Virginia coal mining town. A nineteen year old girl shows up at a man's farm claiming to be his daughter, and takes things a little far with her sexual teasing. The plot takes several turns in its slim 90 pages, but I've never read another book quite like The Butterfly. The subject matter lends itself to Cain's spare, objective prose, because you need some distance from a topic like incest, and Cain hadles it well.

The book also contains a short preface to The Butterfly, where the author talks a bit about his biography and his approach to writing.

All three books are a solid 'B' grade, and fans of Cain, especially his writing style, should seek this book out.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The idea behind "Three of a Kind" is to package three of James M Cain's novels between two covers. The three novels (or novelettes) are supposed to share some common denominators of most of Cain's books: common themes, common characters, common stylistic features and common plot tendencies. On the whole the idea works, at least for me, because I am a long-time Cain fan. If you are not or are curious about his writings I think they are worth reading. The stories are not necessarily of the same value (I can't say I liked them equally) but they all partake of the noir category of literature (dark landscape, hard-boiled men and women, lots of violence peppered with sex, and endings that are usually inconclusive). If all of this does not turn you off, then try it -- you might like it.
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The lead story in this volume, Serenade, is by far the best of the three novellas presented, and is the only subject of my review.

As Serenade opens, protagonist Jack Sharp is banished from Paradise, subsisting in Mexico as a kind of operatic stumblebum. He lost both his golden voice and his European Eden when his muse deserted him over the sin of homosexuality. The agent of his temptation and fall was rich, charming Winston Hawes, his maestro and mentor in Paris.

In his Mexico hell, Jack nevertheless finds his Eve, a three-peso whore named Juana Montes, who straightens his libido, helps heal his voice, and escapes with him for his second shot at fame and fortune in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Before long, he conquers Hollywood and reaches his ultimate goal, singing at the Met in New York. Naturally, Winston Hawes reappears at the height of Jack’s meteoric rise. Not long after, in a decadent party setting that resembles a drag ball, Juana fulfills her fate and crushes the devil/serpent underfoot.

Those who have been awarded a second sojourn in the Garden must, of course, endure another round of purgation in hell. To that end, Jack and Juana flee to South America for the denouement, deteriorating physically and mentally until they reach ground zero—the same Mexican town and milieu where they met. The ending is appropriately melodramatic, but is too long in coming. Cain has tried our patience by now with a lot of mopey agonizing about the lovers’ final breakup.

In spite of its faults, Serenade is mostly brisk and involving, a damn good read.
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By Truesy on November 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having loved James Cain's novel, The Cocktail Waitress, I decided to read this trilogy. These three novelettes are gritty, gripping, and quick paced. They also reflect the social values of the time in which they were taking place - 50's - early 60's (?). By this I mean that there are very unflattering comments about Mexicans and homosexuals,while at the same time, this is integral to the plot and characters. These stories are full of surprises, unexpected events and characters. This is not uplifting but if you like dark, punctuated by shocking moments, it is compelling. The writing is spare, reminiscent of Hemingway or Steinbeck, and looks at the dark underbelly of society. The writing does not dwell on detail. There is no deep insight on the part of the characters. The reader is always in the moment. I was torn between giving this book two stars or five stars. In the end, it depends upon personal taste. I recommend downloading a sample and see what you think!
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There is no such thing as a bad Cain book. One of my favorite authors and these stories are great stuff.
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James M. Cain is not for the faint hearted. Violence and sex in a heartless America is his usual calling card but Loves Lovely Counterfeit is a masterfully believable story told with a surprising tone I haven't seen any other examples of his work. A memorable second read.
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