Item #7162 THREE OF A KIND. James M. Cain.


New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943. First Edition. First publication in book format of three short novels: Career in C Major, The Embezzler, and Double Indemnity. Because screenwriting in Hollywood occasionally dried up, Cain often found himself in need of money; Double Indemnity was written during one of those dry periods. Cain worked quickly to finish this tale of sex, murder, and insurance fraud set in California, and managed to sell it to Liberty Magazine for $5,000, where it ran as an eight-part serial in 1936. It was sensationally popular, reportedly adding eight million to the magazine's circulation (Hoopes, p.303). Basis for Billy Wilder's 1944 film noir, with a screenplay by Raymond Chandler, starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson. The Dark Page, Vol.1, pp.44-45; Hubin, p.61; Pronzini & Muller, pp.106-107. Item #7162

First Printing. Octavo (20.25cm); rust-colored cloth, with titling and decorations stamped in gilt on spine and author's initials in blind to front cover; maroon topstain; dustjacket; xx,327,[5]pp. Hint of sunning to spine, spine ends gently nudged, else a clean, Near Fine copy, with a strong, unfaded topstain. In the rare first state dustjacket, with the rear panel printing a message from Alfred A. Knopf ("To the Purchaser of This Book From Its Publisher") regarding compliance with wartime paper restrictions; price-clipped (but price isn't the point of issue here – the rear panel is), sunned at spine and panels (though heavier on spine), showing modest shelfwear, a few tiny nicks and a 1" closed tear at upper front joint, and the printer's code neatly clipped from the lower left corner of rear flap; Very Good.

The first state jacket is a true rarity, never offered at auction, and known in one or two copies. The more readily-available jacket was price-clipped by the publisher, with a rubber-stamped price of $2.50, and an entirely different rear panel printing a photo of Cain and a two-paragraph statement from the author about war bonds.

Price: $5,500.00

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