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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking Read
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...
Published on 21 Oct 2002 by Warren Stalley

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Double Incredulity
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...
Published on 14 Jun 2011 by Officer Dibble


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking Read, 21 Oct 2002
By 
Warren Stalley (Bradford, England) - See all my reviews
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, Powerful, Outstanding., 17 Mar 2014
This review is from: Double Indemnity (Paperback)
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. Other individuals are drawn into the circle such as the businessman's daughter and the insurance mans methodical boss. The characters behave differently to how I would have imagined and I am unsure whether this is because the novel has dated slightly (rather like Neville Shute's works) or if this is a reflection of the Noir period. But what I do know is that from the first page I was gripped. Very often I will read a book and think to myself 'does that sound realistic?, and if the answer is no, a certain amount of enjoyment is taken away. Strangely this was not the case here, I just kept wanting to read further and further, especially when the characters past history slowly became apparent. For example, from the first meeting of Phyllis Nirdlinger and Walter Huff they start to bounce off each other and the bones of the scam start to fall into place. Would this really happen that quickly with no trust built between the two?

Despite the lack of length I feel this book will remain with me for a long time, and like all good novels a number of questions will need to be answered such as what would I be prepared to do for a large amount of cash? Would I be able to be manipulated by a femme fatale? Could I be a Walter Huff, always on the lookout for the ideal opportunity to make a quick buck?

Fans of the film will find a very different ending to the one they are accustomed to. A number of reviewers have marked the novel down in their reviews because of this. I may be in the minority but I preferred the ending Cain chose. It has a slightly disturbed ring to it, but I feel it fits more closely with the characters state of mind.

I would recommend this read to anyone regardless of what genre of fiction they would usually indulge. As mentioned, the length is fairly short so why not take a chance? I did, and am glad I did so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Cain, you were good!, 20 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Double Indemnity (Kindle Edition)
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Double Incredulity, 14 Jun 2011
By 
Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Double Indemnity (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected, 26 Jun 2014
By 
This review is from: Double Indemnity (Paperback)
To be honest I am not a big fan a crime fiction but I did enjoy this book. I would have given it four stars if I hadn't found the ending disappointing. Overall a positive surprise though.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The book is great. Even though the film was a little diffrent ..., 25 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Double Indemnity (Paperback)
I saw the popular film and always wanted to read the book. I finally got around to it and I can say I was not let down. The book is great. Even though the film was a little diffrent I liked it.
There were a few spelling errors and editing errors in the book. But they were few and far between, so they didn't cause much of a problem.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic for a rainy afternoon, 12 Aug 2007
By 
Mr. S. Miller "Page Turner" (Glasgow, UK) - See all my reviews
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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. I'm sure I was not alone in knowing him only by virtue of those novels which have been successfully transposed onto the big screen.

Even allowing for the fact that his style has been much imitated since his texts still leave the reader reeling from the casual and callous brutality which inhabits the social sub-stratum in which his characters move. Like his contemporary Runyon, with whom he shares a similar style, Cain began life as a journalist and that discipline must be credited for honing his prose as well as serving up the seeds of some of his best stories.

In "Double Indemnity" Cain brings us an insurance agent, Walter Huff, who shows that for all his street-wise salesmanship he is still susceptible in the presence of a beautiful woman to a rush of gullibility from which there is no return.

The criminal deed is set up and executed quickly and efficiently and the reader is brought up close to Huff's freefall. The real success in the book is in the unravelling of the criminal scheme and it is Huff's boss, Keyes, with his methodical process of enquiry who emerges as the true if unlikely hero of the novel.

At 136 pages this story can be consumed at a single sitting - in fact, it demands it - but it is as memorable as many classics five times its length.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A FASCINATING EXPERIENCE!!, 17 Feb 2014
By 
Greggorio! (Amazing Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Double Indemnity (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars A thrill seking Big Dipper of a book, 10 Sep 2013
By 
Colin Mayo "Rooster Booster" (Hemel Hempstead) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Double Indemnity (Paperback)
This book is an absolute classic, reads so fast it's untrue, a real pager turner, agree with others re ending
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good story line., 17 Jun 2013
By 
Mr. J. W. Woolmer "Wellington" (Somerset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Double Indemnity (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed reading this book. I liked the story line and will probably read more from this author James M Cain
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Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
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