Past All Dishonor - James M. Cain - ebook

Past All Dishonor ebook

James M. Cain

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Opis

A Confederate spy risks his life to win the heart of a fallen woman. Early in the Civil War, the Confederacy sends Roger Duval to Sacramento, to keep an eye on the situation in California in hopes of turning the Western territory towards the Southern cause. It's a plush assignment, well out of the line of fire, but Duval hasn't been there long before he comes into mortal danger. On a swim in the Sacramento River, he gets knocked on the head by a paddleboat, and is drowning in the muck when Morina, a quick-witted woman of the night, tosses him a rope. Suffocated by instant, irresistible love, Roger follows Morina to her home turf: Virginia City, Nevada. For the miners, gamblers, and gunfighters who populate this hardscrabble town, her price is negotiable. But for a man in love, she charges a thousand dollars. Roger will sacrifice body, mind, and soul to get that money - but will his sacrifice be enough to make her love him?

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Introduction by Thomas Chastain

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

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About the Book

A Confederate spy risks his life to win the heart of a fallen woman.

Early in the Civil War, the Confederacy sends Roger Duval to Sacramento, to keep an eye on the situation in California in hopes of turning the Western territory towards the Southern cause. It’s a plush assignment, well out of the line of fire, but Duval hasn’t been there long before he comes into mortal danger. On a swim in the Sacramento River, he gets knocked on the head by a paddleboat, and is drowning in the muck when Morina, a quick-witted woman of the night, tosses him a rope.

Suffocated by instant, irresistible love, Roger follows Morina to her home turf: Virginia City, Nevada. For the miners, gamblers, and gunfighters who populate this hardscrabble town, her price is negotiable. But for a man in love, she charges a thousand dollars. Roger will sacrifice body, mind, and soul to get that money - but will his sacrifice be enough to make her love him?

About the Author

James M. Cain (1892-1977) was one of the most important authors in the history of crime fiction. Born in Maryland, he became a journalist after giving up on a childhood dream of singing opera. After two decades writing for newspapers in Baltimore, New York and the Army - and a brief stint as the managing editor of The New Yorker - Cain turned to fiction, penning a slim novella, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) that became one of the most controversial bestsellers of its day.

Past All Dishonor

James M. Cain

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2013 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1946 by James M. Cain. Renewed © 1973 by James M. Cain

Introduction copyright © 1984 by Thomas Chastain

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Mimi Bark

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-460-9

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

to Aileen

Introduction by Thomas Chastain

I KNEW JAMES M. CAIN for the last five years of his life. We met when I interviewed him for Publishers Weekly at his home in Hyattsville, Maryland, on his eightieth birthday. Long before that, however, I had known the works of James M. Cain. In fact, I was still in my teens when I first read and was mesmerized by The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, and I haven’t stopped rereading, and being remesmerized by, them since—along with most of his seventeen other novels.

The body of work James M. Cain left behind has received a lion’s share of praise, and an almost equal amount of snobbish critical dismissal. Cain and his novels are nothing if not controversial. His writing disturbs, just as he meant it to. The authority, power and tension in his writing touch a nerve in readers and critics, more so than the work of any other writer in modern American letters.

On one level he took what most of us would rather think of as inexplicable human behavior—cold-blooded murder, greed, uninhibited sexuality—and gave it definition; took the kind of ordinary, faceless people who sometimes are guilty of such inexplicable behavior and gave them dimension. Of such matters is literature made.

On another level Cain was telling us something about ourselves, even cautioning us about ourselves. This is contained in what he thought of as the theme of all his novels, the theme he described as “the wish come true; the secret wish, the hidden dream—with a seed of evil in it—which becomes reality with terrifying consequences.”

Compassionate is a word I have never heard used in connection with Cain’s writing, yet it is there. He was never condescending toward his characters, most of whom were somewhat “lesser mortals.” Nor did he sit in judgment at their actions. He was simply the recording instrument of them, of what they did, and the consequences of their actions. At the same time his work was highly moral, a fact almost always missed by those who read his books superficially and were too quick to pass judgment on him.

Much has been written in praise of the pace, the momentum, the acceleration of Cain’s narrative talent, and all of the praise has been deserved. But it didn’t just happen. He worked hard to achieve the effects to be found in his writing. He rewrote his books over and over again. Once he told me: “I made about fifty different starts on Past All Dishonor. ... It had the biggest trade sale of all my books. That taught me not to give up.” The unique Cain style—the swift, almost breathless shifts of scene and action, the terse, jagged-edged dialogue, which frequently is saying a whole lot more than the literal words on the page—were the result of constant rewriting and refining as he filtered the story through his artistic sensibility. And it was this hard-earned style that creates an almost unbearable tension in his writing.

Past All Dishonor was Cain’s seventh published novel and marks a departure in time and setting from most of his other novels; the time is the Civil War, the setting is the western frontier. Cain was always a great reader of history and Past All Dishonor is an example of how he attempted to incorporate past history into his fiction. During his Hollywood screenwriting days he had visited Nevada for background and research for a motion picture that was never made. Nevertheless he continued to research that period—the Civil War era—and place until, finally, he put it to use in this book.

Past All Dishonor is important in the author’s canon for another reason. In it are all the vintage James M. Cain ingredients: murder, what he himself always called “the adventure of sex” and, most of all, the working out of the theme he believed to be central to all his writing, “the wish come true ... which becomes reality with terrifying consequences.”

As is true in all of his best novels, the detail—based on prodigious research—is authentic. And the characters—Roger Duval, a spy for the Confederate army, and Morina, a prostitute, who fall in love—are typical of the other headstrong, passionate, reckless characters who have figured in his best work.

It is difficult for a serious writer, as Cain was, to repeat the kind of stunning success he had with his first novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. He is forever thereafter in competition with himself and must constantly guard against repeating the formula that worked so well before. At the same time, he must not deny his natural talent, just for the sake of doing something different. Cain struggled with this problem throughout the long years of his writing life. It is a tribute to his integrity as a writer that he did not deny his natural talent but, instead, tried to find new ways, as in Past All Dishonor, to tell the kinds of stories he was born to tell.

In 1942, Cain wrote in his own preface to a collection of three of his novels, Three of a Kind: “I am probably the most mis-read, mis-reviewed, and misunderstood novelist now writing.” There was, in truth, much justification for his statement. The literary establishment of his day always hedged its bets about the importance of his writing. He was quite conscious of this fact. Once, when I asked him if he was aware of the impact and influence of his novels on readers worldwide, on a couple of generations of writers, he answered, “It’s a very vain remark, but the question always is: Is he out of date? Or does he keep?” He then nodded his head. This edition of Past All Dishonor, published again almost four decades after it first appeared, would seem to verify his answer.

It has been half a century since James M. Cain began to publish his tales of passion and murder. In all the years since, no other writer has been able to equal, much less surpass, his classic novels. According to all the yardsticks by which great writers are measured, the works of James M. Cain have assured him a permanent place in world literature.

In the years that I knew him I sometimes talked with Cain about the body of his work. He admitted that he had reflected upon it now and then. For what it is worth, he chose Past All Dishonor as his personal favorite of all the novels he had written.

This book deals with the West of the silver boom, and the amateur of that era will find much in it which is familiar to him. The characters, however, are imaginary, as are the specific mines, establishments, and intrigues that engage them. They do not represent, and are not intended to represent, actual persons, places, or events, nor do they spring from local legend, directly or under disguise.

J. M. C.

1

I FIRST MET HER, this girl you’ll find soon enough, when she fished me out of the Sacramento River on an occasion when I was showing more originality than sense. I was taking a day off from my job, which was secesh spy, though I may as well say right away there was no bravery attached to it, or anything like what they put in the novels. Last year, when Lee got kicked out of Maryland, I figured it was time to quit griping at how the feds ruined Annapolis, and do something about it. So I was packed for Port Tobacco, where I was to cross into Virginia and enlist, when a friend of mine heard something that scared him worse than what had happened to Lee. He’s got a big statehouse job, and gets a lot of stuff not everybody gets. And he heard about the Column from California, as they called it, that crossed the Colorado and moved through Arizona and New Mexico into Texas, and when we laid it out on the map it looked like they were going to scoop the Confederacy right into the Gulf of Mexico like a scythe scoops wheat. So he got a bunch together, and they had it all night, and decided there was still a chance for the western republic idea, but that our trouble was we didn’t know anything about California. So I got elected to go out there and send news back. But right away they warned me not to send any military information, unless it was hot and important, in which case I was to wire in a simple code we had that wouldn’t be suspected. Mainly I was to send newspaper clippings, and as Sacramento was a central spot, specially for political stuff, I settled down there, and took a shack by the river, on the Yolo side, so I could use a glass on the boats and anything else I wanted to see without anybody asking why. Couple of days a week I rockered a placer up on the American River, so there couldn’t be any question about what I was doing there. As a matter of fact I got enough color to live on. About once a week I’d take a steamboat trip up one of the rivers, to see what was going on, and there’s been plenty. That independent republic may not be such a dream as you’d think. And every couple of days I’d send on my clippings, covering both sides, like I was just a young fellow keeping his friends back east up to date. On the wire part, there wasn’t much to send. California is not where the war is, and even in San Francisco, outside of training new outfits going east, there’s not much military news.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!