First off, I would like to say how much I like the cover of this book; a vintage style painting of a sultry, dangerous looking waitress sets the tone perfectly for this sexy thriller.
In this story we meet Joan Medford, who after burying her first husband – in whose sudden death she is implicated in – she meets two very different yet important men. Earl K. White the Third is older than her but very wealthy and Joan sees him as the way out of all her problems. Then there is the young Tom Barclay, handsome schemer, a man Joan lusts after but someone who can’t possibly be good for her.
As a turbulent love triangle ensues, Joan finds herself caught up in a tangle of lust and betrayal that looks set far from having a happy ending.
I really liked the character of Joan; strong willed and clever, a woman with assets who knows how to use them. This is my first foray into vintage crime fiction and I loved the style of writing. The whole feel of the book was classy and the setting of the cocktail bar was well suited to Joan and the other characters to indulge in the sins that make up this engrossing story.
James M. Cain is considered one of the big names in old school crime fiction after he began publishing books in the 30s and 40s onwards. The Cocktail Waitress was his final novel, written in 1975. I thought this was a great example of classic American crime writing; slick and stylish, no holds barred, and I will certainly be reading more books from this author. Alluring and original, I really recommend The Cocktail Waitress to all crime readers.