James M. Cain, , read by Christine Williams. . Blackstone Audio, $24.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7861-6047-1
Cain’s classic novel, and the source for the 1945 film starring Joan Crawford, makes its way onto audio with this reading by actor and singer Williams. Cain’s purple prose and then-scandalous dialogue take on new life under Williams’s direction, her assured tone underscoring the legendary noir writer’s rip-roaring tale of a woman scorned who survives no-good men and a hateful daughter to make it in 1930s Los Angeles. Williams is out of her depth encountering tense or high-pitched dialogue, reading it in a clipped monotone that does little for Cain’s drama, but is on far stronger ground with the rest of the book, which flourishes under her steady, patient, ever-so-slightly melancholic gaze. Williams’s reading lacks the rage that moved Crawford’s Mildred, but her version of the now-familiar story amplifies our sense of Cain’s heroine as an abandoned woman who finds her own way, on her own terms.
Reviewed on: 05/28/2007