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Double Indemnity (CRIME MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 21 Mar 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Paperback, 21 Mar 2002
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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: 12.7 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,357,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

[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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

James M. Cain's crime masterpiece.

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Reading this book is like 'reading' a good film-noir to such an extent that the images in my mind whilst reading were in black and white rather than colour! It is not going to blow you away with an in depth look at the human psyche but it will thoroughly entertain you with some nicely if basically drawn characters who all stay in character for the whole story. That's not to say they don't change but this isn't a book where the character suddenly leaps into a new persona just to help the story along. The twists are relatively predictable but when you read books like this you have to remember that all the novel good parts have been reused in the decades between it being written and you reading it and so are no longer novel.

So to summarise if you like film-noir you will like this book.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is definitely a thriller! What a deadly woman! No wonder they put her into a Film Noir and no wonder she became a classic femme fatale. I really enjoyed reading the original. I enjoyed the first person narrative which allows the situation to become clear only as it does to the besotted insurance man. I heard it in my head like a voice-over, all the cleverness of intricate scheming along with the naivety of the infatuated man.
" She looks like what came aboard the ship to shoot dice for souls in the 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner." (James M. Cain: "Double Indemnity")
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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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