cover image The Cocktail Waitress

The Cocktail Waitress

James M. Cain, read by Amy Rubinate. HarperAudio, unabridged, eight CDs, 8.5 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-0-06-220906-1

The world-weariness of the eponymous lead, Joan Medford, is perfectly captured here by narrator Amy Rubinate. As Cain’s noir opens, Medford’s just lost her husband—and under circumstances that garnered police interest. But she’s no simple widow, and Rubinate sells the rapid transformation from a grieving wife to a menacing figure determined to keep her son, in spite of efforts by her childless sister-in-law to claim him. Without histrionics, Rubinate makes Medford’s emotional but restrained threats seem true to life, and early on signals the complexity of the lead. Rubinate’s versatility serves her well in portraying the other characters; different genders, ages, and social classes are all handled perfectly. Cain devotees will find this an entertaining must-listen. A Hard Case Crime hardcover. (Sept.)