Death Benefits: A Novel
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Death Benefits: A Novel

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  514 ratings  ·  41 reviews
When gruff and intimidating security consultant Max Stillman appears without warning in the San Francisco office of McClaren Life and Casualty and begins asking questions and scrutinizing files, the employees can't help wondering just which of them he's been hired to investigate. The first to find out is young data analyst John Walker when Stillman's mysterious investigati...more
Published March 13th 2001 by Random House (first published January 1st 2001)
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Zakariah Johnson
This is classic Thomas Perry--when he goes for it, he goes as big as you can. What starts out as an investigation into insurance fraud turned violent morphs midstream into a very funny send-up of New Hampshire Yankees and our storied reclusiveness--remember: every church's bell tower can either call the faithful or serve as an excellent sniper's platform. If you like over-the-top action and plots involving parallel criminal worlds that are milking the rest of us like aphids, you'll like this. If...more
Robert Rosenthal
The overall idea for this novel was great. It immerses us in unusual world, that of the insurance industry, and delivers an unusual caper to be unravelled. The pacing was fast with some decent action sequences, though none of them stellar, like in Barry Eisler's Rain series. Unfortunately, Walker, the protagonist, is a drab, rather uninteresting guy. Not unlikeable, but nothing there to root for either. Yes, this is in keeping with his job as an insurance analyst, but that's no excuse for a life...more
The first book I've read by this author. It reminds me a bit of Stephen Frey's books (except better). The protagonist works as an actuary for a family owned insurance company, a generally misunderstood industry. Insurance is only marginally about underwriting. Mostly it's about money. Our protagonist becomes the unlikely hero with a somewhat wishful romantic connection to a subject of a fraud investigation, and the sidekick to the man hired by the company to solve the mystery. I'm on chapter 12...more
This book is about insurance fraud and claims analysis. Yawning yet? Be in for a surprise as Thomas Perry weaves a terrific investigative tale built around precisely those seemingly soporific plot elements. Max Stillman, a new character for Perry, and John Walker, an insurance analyst who's really good with numbers, team up to discover how a man could impersonate another to make off with millions in death benefits. What they uncover has much larger ramifications and leads them to a town in New H...more
Nancy Baker
I always enjoy Perry's work and this book is no exception. It is not nearly as absorbing as the Jane Whitefield books, but it has a lot to recommend it--mostly the same elements that make all of Perry's books fun: the story covers a lot of ground geographically and plot-wise and there is at least one character who is quite likable, if a bit eccentric. In this case, the main character was merely ok. I didn't much care for him or dislike him. His mentor, however, really made the book. I only wish...more
I rarely purchase a novel on the basis of the title alone, especially when I haven’t heard of the author. Yet, I picked up Death Benefits thinking that it was merely going to be a murder mystery based on insurance fraud and glanced at the back cover. The back cover did nothing to dissuade me of that idea and intrigued me by suggesting that the protagonist would be an insurance analyst from an exclusive actuarial department within an upscale insurance company. I like my mysteries to be driven by...more
Anne Mowat
I can't help but compare this book with Metzger's Dog. That book turned me onto Thomas Perry as a thriller writer. I'd rate it a strong 5 because it was all so wonderfully inventive, with every character, from Dr. Henry Metzger to Ben Porterfield, believably eccentric.

And it is so...funny. Not what you expect in a thriller. I still smile remembering the line about Dr. Henry Metzger (Chinese Gordon's cat) sitting in the "loaf of bread pose". It's just too wonderful.

That cool, sardonic, distance...more
My personal favorite of Perry's books to date, perhaps because middle-aged pussy-hound insurance investigator Max Stillman is such a hoot. He can deliver a remarkably sensitive discourse on why it's wrong for old dudes to hook up with young girls, and then bust out with something cheerfully crass like this:

Stillman brightened. "If they're at least thirty-five or forty, and there's anything they still haven't found out, been taught, felt, or experienced, then it's high time and Max Stillman's the...more
Bill Cissna
I've generally enjoyed the Thomas Perry books I've read, but I was worried about this one. In my opinion, it's a slow starter. But give it time -- it gets much better as it goes along. Well worth the time invested.
We listened to this as an audio book on a recent trip. I really enjoy this writer and this mystery has both a fun plot - although it takes a while to build – and a great character in Max Stillman. The author has given the guy some terrific chuckle-out-loud lines. The story moves all over the country, from California to Chicago to Miami to Keene, N.H., and the bodies pile up. Max and his young sidekick, John Walker, are scouring the country to find out who is behind a multi-million dollar insuran...more
One of the unsung heroes of contemporary thriller writers. This is my favourite of his books, despite the strength of his long-running Jane Whitefield series, for example, Shadow Woman, probably because of the completely unpredictable twists and turns this plot takes: that's quite something considering how well we all understand the tropes of this genre.

I won't give you any plot spoilers beyond what is in the blurb. It would be a shame to spoil the surprise.
I listened to this as an audiobook. It was quite good, the story moved along, and I liked the characters. There were a few moments when I was surprised that the point of view character, an insurance analyst, was good at fighting and firing a gun, as we had no reason to believe he had any experience doing either. I thought the introspective moments were interesting and at no point was I so annoyed with the characters that I wanted to get away from them. I would definitely recommend this book to a...more
John Walker, an employee of McClaren Life and Casualty, gets more than he bargained for when he is asked to investigate a large death benefit paid out to the wrong person and the suspicious disappearance of one of his colleagues in this compelling, fast-paced novel from the Edgar Award-winning Thomas Perry.

Listen to Death Benefits on your smartphone, notebook or desktop computer.
Thomas Perry puts a story together like no one else. Some plot pieces are so subtle that I get lost but I get found again pretty soon. In Death Benefits, he takes an ordinary insurance actuary and pairs him with an extraordinary and mysterious insurance investigator. Together they peel apart a complicated fraud scheme. It's a great story - one that you hate to see end.
As always, Thomas Perry keeps you turning the pages, which is why I enjoy his books so much, but the underlying premise of this one is just too far-fetched. I realize that they're all somewhat far-fetched, but the suspension of disbelief is manageable. And so it is with this one, until perhaps the last third of the book when you find out who's really behind it all.
If I would have remembered that I had read one of Thomas Perry's books before I would not have read this book. He seems to go on really long tangents to the story line. I find the characters a bit flat and I personally like a mystery/ thriller to move at a faster pace.
Really good! About insurance fraud, which sounds terribly boring, but it's his typical adventure story. I need to make sure I catch up on him & his books. This is about, eventually, a small town in New Hampshire that's really frightening in a Stepford Wives kind of way.
Jonn Betzer
Fun read, classic Perry...

The writing style is fantastic and definately made me think of The Butcher's Boy. Worth your time.
This was another Thomas Perry stand-a-lone that was well-crafted and good to the last word. I have found I could rely on Perry to give me a story with twists and turns I didn't see coming and characters I admire.
Perry writes a good, quick read. This one was ok, but left me wanting in the end - seemed a bit far-fetched for my taste (even for a good, ol' fashioned suspense novel).
Cyn (RaeWhit)
This was a fast-paced suspense thriller that centered on two insurance industry 'sub-contractors' tracking down massive insurance fraud. I had trouble putting it down.
Blah. Persuit, Blood Money, Runner and Night Life are MUCH BETTER than this poor chase effort. Uninteresting characters result in 2 of 10 stars.
Certainly not great lit, but Thomas Perry is a fabulous storyteller. Hope he writes more in the Jane Whitefield series, she's my hero.
This was so good, a real thriller. Too bad it's not a series, would like to read more of the main characters!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Good fast read. Who'd think of the insurance industry as the vehicle for a gripping mystery.
Peter Atkinson
Good story, good thriller, main characters typical of many books, not particularly original.
First half was interesting. I liked it a lot. A so-so last half gets it three stars overall.
He's always great. Have enjoyed the first 4 chapters and got sidetracked.
Who'd've thought a story about an insurance company could be so interesting?
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Thomas Perry was born in Tonawanda, New York in 1947. He received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1969 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Rochester in 1974. He has worked as a park maintenance man, factory laborer, commercial fisherman, university administrator and teacher, and a writer and producer of prime time network television shows. He lives in Southern California with his wife...more
More about Thomas Perry...
Vanishing Act (Jane Whitefield, #1) The Butcher's Boy (Butcher's Boy, #1) Dance for the Dead (Jane Whitefield, #2) Shadow Woman (Jane Whitefield, #3) The Face-Changers (Jane Whitefield, #4)

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