University Park’s Noir Writer


Vintage book cover by Flickr user Marxchivist:

It’s a little surprising that sleepy little University Park was also home to one of the most hardboiled of crime fiction authors.

Or maybe not. If you read James M. Cain’s novels — or watch film noir adaptations of “Double Indemnity” and “The Postman Always Rings Twice” — one of their central observations is that darkness lurks in the most mundane places.

The biography, “James M. Cain: Hard-Boiled Mythmaker,” notes that in 1948 the author “retired from Hollywood with his fourth wife, Florence, to Hyattsville, Maryland, near Washington, where they lived the rest of their lives.”

But this seems to be another case of Hyattsville getting the credit for a University Park resident.

A 1977 obituary from the New York Times says that Cain gave up “Hollywood, alcohol and cigarettes” to move with his fourth wife to “a small rented house in Hyattsville” and notes that after a heart attack in 1968 he was cared for by his “next-door neighbors in Hyattsville,” the Kisielnicki family, though it also refers to him as a University Park resident.

For the record, Cain lived at 6707 44th Ave. in University Park (between Van Buren Street and Queens Chapel Road) from 1948 to 1977.

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