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.