James M. Cain – The Postman Always Rings Twice
This short 1934 book helped give birth to the modern detective noir genre. Much popular literature of the period was on the vanilla side; this one was downright scandalous, with murder, adultery, and drunken car crashes looming large in the plot. Think of this book as a predecessor to today’s hard-boiled, Elmore Leonard-style stories. While not entirely to my taste, the sleazy story does have its low-brow appeal, to which I am not immune.