James M Cain
Though he disavowed any association with the hardboiled or noir style of writing, author James M. Cain was one of its leading architects. His best novels, which included <i>The Postman Always Rings Twice</i>, <i>Mildred Pierce</i> and <i>Double Indemnity</i>, helped to establish the tenets of the style in both novel and film form through stories of outsiders and misfits whose interactions with each other, spurred largely through sex or greed, ultimately lead to their destruction. Cain's lean prose, which was fraught with lust and violence, became a favorite source for Hollywood noir, and some of the best films of the genre were based on his work, including the 1946 version of "Postman," Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" (1944), and 1945's "Mildred Pierce" with Joan Crawford. Cain continued to publish well into the 1970s, though his subsequent novels lacked the blood and fire of his best titles, which kept him in print for decades after their release, and ensured his place among the great thriller writers of the 20th century.