One of the most successful and controversial crime novels of the twentieth-century, The Postman Always Rings Twice is set in a world where deception regulates human relationships and where any prospect of a better and more fulfilling life is gone awry. The characters constantly deceive one another and are eventually unable to attain their goals. They all turn out to be losers at the end. The novel also challenges the idea of human agency as fate and chance play an important part in key moments of the story (Frank's arrival to the diner owned by Nick and Cora, Frank and Cora's first failure to kill Nick). Fate comes in the form of punishment for Frank and Cora as she dies accidentally and he is sentenced to death for a murder that he has not committed.