This is a book you read once and can't stop thinking about. It's what I call a 'blue book', one that is soulful and strangely mellow. It actually makes me feel like I'm underneath a very shady tree on a sunny day. Reason being that the light is very blue green, so a 'blue' book.
Before I try to make sense of this, let's continue.
Frank Chambers is a young drifter who rolls into town, goes to work in a diner for Nick, a tough Greek, falls for Nick's young wife Cora, then decides, with Cora's help, to murder Nick and take over the restaurant. What should be simple becomes more complex. The first murder attempt fails, the second one is successful but easy to see through. With the help of a very smart and very crooked lawyer, both Frank and Cora are soon free. That, really, is where the problems start.
Frank and Cora love and hate each other fiercely, speaking with remarkably accurate, real dialogue. Cain doesn't even attribute his dialogue, so pay close attention to who's speaking. The book is mostly just people talking, in very real language, full of slang and fragmented sentences. It's like listening to a REALLY interesting conversation.
Frank and Cora are two very small, unremarkable, inconsequential people caught up in something too big for them to understand. They mistake happiness and hope for lust, hate, anger and even apathy. And just when things look alright, one little, honest accident washes it all away. This book shows us how fragile everything is, or at least how fragile it can be. That's what elevates this to the level of tragedy. This is something to live with and dwell upon, something you can never quite shake off, no matter how hard you try.