Frank Chambers, a drifter who is kicked off a hay truck in front of Nick Papadakis’ Twin Oaks tavern. Nick offers him a job; attracted to Nick’s sultry wife, Cora, Frank accepts. Engaged in a brutally passionate affair with Cora, Frank conspires with Cora to kill Nick. When an attempt to drown Nick in his bathtub fails, Frank departs, but he finds himself drawn back to Cora. Nick happily rehires Frank, who resumes his affair with Cora. A second attempt on Nick’s life through a faked automobile accident is successful. Playing on the hospitalized Frank’s confusion and fears, District Attorney Sackett manipulates him into signing a complaint against Cora. After the trial and Cora’s release, the two return to the Twin Oaks. When Cora leaves for a week, Frank engages in a one-week affair with a woman he meets, Madge Allen. Again, however, he finds himself drawn back to Cora. Frank has to beat Kennedy, a would-be blackmailer, into submission. Frank and Cora realize they are bound to each other. They marry and celebrate with an excursion to the beach. When Cora feels ill, Frank rushes her to the hospital, but in a foolish attempt to pass a truck, he drives into a culvert and Cora is killed. Charged with her murder, Frank is found guilty and sentenced to death. He spends his time on death row composing the narrative of these events, which he leaves in the hands of Father McConnell for publication in the event his execution is not stayed.
Cora Papadakis, born Cora Smith, the winner of a beauty contest in Iowa who went to Hollywood and, failing to fulfill her dreams there, escaped working in a hash house by marrying Nick Papadakis and doing the cooking for their Twin Oaks tavern. She is, however, repelled by Nick’s ethnic background, and she welcomes the rough sexuality of Frank Chambers. She urges Frank to join her in killing Nick. In their first plot, Cora agrees to drown Nick in his bathtub....
(The entire section is 807 words.)