The House of Cain is placed in the context of Upfield's writing. After he had submitted The Barrakee Mystery, the first 'Bony' novel, to a literary agent and delayed recommended rewriting, he wrote The House of Cain , published in 1928. Farmer describes The House of Cain as 'a straight thriller', which contains 'the seeds of the latter and better books'. In particular, the Australian Outback setting that dominates many Upfield books is used for the first time. Another 'first' by Farmer's reckoning is Upfield's thematic interest in 'curing' a criminal by medical intervention to excise a lesion of the brain. Farmer devotes several paragraphs to theorising about the 'real life' origins of Napoleon Bonaparte (Bony), a 'hybrid of two peoples and cultures'.