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Double Indemnity (Crime Masterworks) [Paperback]

James M. Cain
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Mar 2002 Crime Masterworks (Book 6)
Walter Huff is an insurance investigator like any other until the day he meets the beautiful and dangerous Phyllis Nirdlinger and falls under her spell. Together they plot to kill her husband and split the insurance. It'll be the perfect murder ...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New Ed edition (21 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752847694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752847696
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 821,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James M. Cain was born in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1892. Having served in the US Army in World War 1, he became a journalist in Baltimore and New York in the 1920's. He later worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Cain died in 1977

Product Description


'[A] fine idea for a series... They already have a superb noir backlist.. but adding Philip K Dick's Minority Report and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? improves the mix.' (SCOTSMAN) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Part of the READ A GREAT MOVIE promotion --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking Read 21 Oct 2002
This book came in a boxset of ten other crime authors, so I read the book only by chance. The writer doesn't waste any words and this book rattles by like an express train. The book complements The Maltese Falcon as perfect noir. You will find yourself just as caught up as the protagonist. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The Falcon and this book were both made into popular films but both started life as excellent books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, Powerful, Outstanding. 17 Mar 2014
By Bridgey
A few weeks ago I came in late from the pub, turned on the TV and sat through a brilliant old black and white film called Double Indemnity. The next morning the film had left such an impression I decided to read up on its background, found out that is was adapted from a novel and the rest as they say, is history.

I had heard of 'noir', but was never really sure of what it stood for or encapsulated. However, after reading Double Indemnity I have a much better understanding. The book is written in a way I have never encountered before. The sentences are sharp, direct and to the point. Cain wastes no words. I think this is one of the only novels I have read where I have not found any extra padding. The author says all that he needs to say and nothing more, and this shows by the novel covering barely 130 pages. The only other Author I am familiar with that even comes close to this is Cormac McCarthy. You feel every word, sentence, comma and full stop was placed there for a reason. If I had to describe the novel I would say it is like McCarthy but with little descriptive prose and less flamboyancy with the language. I know many people may disagree with this comparison, but as I was working my way through the pages I kept thinking how similar they are in the way they ensure every single word adds something to the readers experience.

The plot of the novel is pretty much straightforward, an insurance salesman meets the wife of a businessman and together then conjure up a scheme whereby they can sell and then claim on his life insurance. A plan is hatched that they both consider foolproof, but as the novel progresses small mistakes begin to unravel into larger issues and the pressure mounts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Cain, you were good! 20 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Few writers can ever have made the world of insurance so exciting. Dull and boring? Not a chance in the hands of master crime craftsman James M. Cain.
Cain starts his murderous tale in similar fashion to his first book, The Postman Always Rings Twice, but the plot here is even darker and more complex. As usual, Cain does not waste a word and the action hurtles along at breakneck speed, taking some delicious turns on the way to a superb conclusion. Cain was at the peak of his powers here - Mildred Pierce here I come!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Double Incredulity 14 Jun 2011
By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There is an elephant in the room in reviewing this book and a couple of reviewers have touched upon it; the ending is preposterous. Suffice to say that the ending bears no relation to the film, without straying further into 'spoiler' territory

Of course, it's classic noir and, of course, James Cain is a maestro of the hard-boiled genre. However, the film does this book a lot of favours. The motivation given to the two key protagonists is flimsy. The most credible character turns out to be the claims negotiator Keyes, with his firm belief in 'actuarial tables..hunch..instinct..experience'.

Mr Cain builds the tension well, especially through the execution of the crime. The downcast tone of the narrator seeps through the story. It positively reeks of Depression America.

For potential purchasers I would also suggest you fight shy of the full RRP of [] for an edition that is massively bulked out to 135 pages with a couple of pages of routine introduction by James Lee Burke.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A FASCINATING EXPERIENCE!! 17 Feb 2014
As Ross MacDonald is quoted on the back of the book, DOUBLE INDEMNITY is " ... an American Masterpiece ..." Reading only the first chapter of this classic of the genre will tell you that. As your eyes flick majestically and smoothly from word to word, you are introduced to the two main characters in the novel. One - the victim, you could say, is WALTER HUFF, an insurance salesman, doing the right thing by his customer but at the wrong place, and certainly as fate would have it, at the wrong time. The other - the predator, is Mrs Phyllis Nirdlinger, who innocently enough, asks about taking accident insurance out on her husband. This sounds fairly innocuous, but by the end of chapter one, the hairs on the back of your neck have all risen to attention and you realise your interest has piqued in this story already.

The reader will soon realise that Mrs Nirdlinger is crazy. We also know that Walter is crazy, too, but in a different way. He is crazy in love with the beautiful psychopath who has a talent and preference for manipulation and self-deceit.

The writing is clean, simple, and pure. The story has not really aged given that it was written and first published by in the 1930s. The book is a joy to read. Mr MacDonald was right. The book is an unequivocal masterpiece. Buy it. Read it. Saviour it. Let it change you as all great books will.

BFN Greggorio!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A thrill seking Big Dipper of a book
This book is an absolute classic, reads so fast it's untrue, a real pager turner, agree with others re ending
Published 7 months ago by Colin Mayo
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story line.
I enjoyed reading this book. I liked the story line and will probably read more from this author James M Cain
Published 10 months ago by Mr. J. W. Woolmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing.
The original novel from which Billy Wilder's famous noir came from. Great for any fan of Billy Wilder, film noir or detective novels!
Published 14 months ago by DoodleinWonderland
4.0 out of 5 stars Good noir
Good film noir by a well respected novelist in the genre - get it read.
The characters seem a little eager to double cross and bump people off but then again if they werent... Read more
Published 16 months ago by aprilfool
5.0 out of 5 stars Plot plot plot
All this is is plot and it is wonderful. Easy to read as it moves at one heck of a pace so really addictive.
Published 17 months ago by PIPPA
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Noir.
This is a wonderful but short noir novel about greed and lust and murder.... Cain writes in the voice of a successful insurance salesman who gets embroiled in a plot to murder the... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Craig Hall
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice and tight.
Nice, tight little tale. His dialogue isn't as good as other authors, but I enjoyed the story.
Published on 5 Oct 2010 by Snowman
5.0 out of 5 stars 136 pages of absolute classic noir!
I love the classic crime noir novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, but somehow never got round to read any by James M Cain. Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2010 by Annabel Gaskell
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic for a rainy afternoon
I have come late to the world of James M Cain, having found him amongst the interviewees in "The Paris Review Interviews, volume 1" itself one of the must-reads of 2007. Read more
Published on 12 Aug 2007 by Mr. S. Miller
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