At times the plot wanders, and it’s no wonder when you consider that Charles Ardai used numerous manuscripts, notes, and other writings to finally present the story to the public. The words are Cain’s but whether he would have put it together this way is something we may never know. At times the narrator seems to change her voice but it soon comes back to the point at hand. You can almost feel two different versions of the tale being welded together in places. What the reader is left with is a story that differs from most of Cain’s work. It’s not tight, flint-edged, and arrow straight. Still, it is vintage Cain and won’t disappoint in the least.
And, as if to prove he still had the master's hand, Cain writes an ending the reader will never see coming. It’s as if the car driven by that drunk and abusive husband was meant to run the reader down. Stephen King called the book a reader’s novel. It is that, and one that fans of noir or hardboiled books will have to have on their shelf; but it’s also a novel for the casual fan. The Cocktail Waitress may just be pedestrian Cain, but it’s still a tale from James M. Cain--and a lot of writers today would like to duplicate even pedestrian Cain.