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Double Indemnity

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  9,805 ratings  ·  516 reviews
Tautly narrated and excruciatingly suspenseful, Double Indemnity gives us an X-ray view of guilt, of duplicity, and of the kind of obsessive, loveless love that devastates everything it touches. First published in 1935, this novel reaffirmed James M. Cain as a virtuoso of the roman noir.
Paperback, 115 pages
Published May 14th 1989 by Vintage (first published 1936)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 12, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Pulp Fiction Reading Group
“I had killed a man, for money and a woman. I didn't have the money and I didn't have the woman.”

One of the great Noir lines of all time. Cain wrote it. Raymond Chandler used it in the movie. I could stop my review right here because that line sums up the movie perfectly.

But I can't. I love writing about books.

Walter Huff met a woman. A married woman, a woman Huff would be willing to turn himself inside out if that would insure her love. Her name is Phyllis and she has a thought, not even a plan
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Stephen
Ooh la la...the femme fatale...
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Intelligent, gorgeous, self-assured and drenched in enough sexual allure to stop a heart at 50 paces. These cold, calculating foxes are nature's consummate predators, guaranteed to ensnare any man by his short and curlies faster and tighter than a rusty zipper. In fact, the only adversary more likely to separate a man from his giblets is the femme bot toting high caliber machine-gun jubblies.
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Well, Double Indemnity has one of the most memorable of these vile, vexi
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Kemper
What is it with this James Cain? First, I tried reading The Postman Always Rings Twice to prepare for my civil service exam, but it was all about murder and didn’t have anything at all about postal regulations. Then I read Double Indemnity to try and become an insurance agent and once again, it’s nothing but a guy getting busy with another man's wife and then plotting to kill him.

At least this one actually had some stuff about the insurance industry, and I did learn a bit about fraud. Still, it
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Dan Schwent
Walter Huff is an insurance salesman who gets mixed up with a man's attractive young wife and together they conspire to murder him. While waiting for the heat to die down, Huff gets involved with the woman's stepdaughter and things spiral out of control...

While I wouldn't go as far as to call this my favorite noir novel, it's definitely as good as, if not better than, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Cain does a phenomenal job building the tension with his minimalist style. It may only be 128 pag
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K.D. Absolutely
Sep 30, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Thrillers); 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
"No one has ever stopped reading in the middle of one Jim Cain's book." - Saturday Review of Literature
This is true. This is my second Cain and I read this non-stop. Well, that was possible because it was Sunday today and I was just at home.

I liked this better than his other equally popular book, The Postman Always Rings Twice (3 stars). Well, I have not seen the movie adaptation of this book while when I read "Postman," I had already seen and liked the Jack Nicholson-Jessica Lange movie in the
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Lou
A day in the life of an insurance salesman, who looks for some extra bucks and meets a woman who wants to make more than just a few bucks. He thinks he knows all the tricks and has a plan, will it work? Hard boiled noir style thriller really keeps you wanting to see how the plan unfolds.
"All right, I'm an agent. I'm a croupier in that game. I know all their tricks, I lie awake nights thinking up tricks, so I'll be ready for them when they come at me. And then one night I think up a trick, and g
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
BkC12) DOUBLE INDEMNITY by James M. Cain: I liked the book better than the movie.

I don't think I agree with myself on this one. I like both book and movie, and the movie version is a wonderful treat available free on YouTube. I'll put the two on a par.

Rating: 4.875* of five

The Book Report: Yet again I feel like a fool offering a summary of a story doubtless extremely well-known: Young wife of older, boring man seeks life insurance for the coot from desperately smitten insurance agent. His lust f
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Trudi

There's a reason this is a classic and has stood the test of time, and you only have to read the first few pages to fully understand why. It all starts with a delicious chill up your spine, your eyeballs riveted to the page, your breath held, the "gotta know what happens next" monster rattling the bars of his cage. Your first thought: Strap on baby, this is gonna be g-ooood

Cain is a MASTER storyteller: his cutthroat instincts for plot and pacing unerring and enviable. His ear for dialogue is eno
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Tfitoby
I loved her like a rabbit loves a rattlesnake.

Walter Huff (not Neff) the insurance agent pays his client Mr Nerdlinger (not Dietrichson) a visit for an auto-renewel and his entire life changes. That one decision is the catalyst for multiple dead bodies in this taut hardboiled thriller from James M. Cain.

Right off the bat this was clearly not the Billy Wilder/Raymond Chandler movie, that classic pairing took Cain as a starting point, rejigged things and created cinematic gold. This book is not as
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Michael
I don’t think I’ve ever read a full book in one sitting before, but since it was small (125 pages) and James M Cain wrote an exciting novella; it was quick easy, I needed to know what was going to happen. Double Indemnity tells the story of an insurance agent and a woman who set out to make a lot of money by claim the insurance of the accidental death of her husband. As you probably guessed; her husband’s death was not going to be an accident. James M Cain is the master of the Noir genre, where ...more
Nancy Oakes

It's a shame that most people are more familiar with the movie based on this novel than with the book itself. Don't think for a moment that if you've seen the movie you've read the book because it's just not so. There are a number of differences between page and screen, and also, watching the movie doesn't allow you to really enter and experience Cain's dark and cynical worldview as much as reading the book does. If nothing else, the ending of this book (as compared to the movie) is just phenome
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Joel
This is one of those books that wound up the victim of its own success. That is to say, I've seen the Billy Wilder movie, and I thought it was better -- it certainly had a much better ending anyway; this one is melodramatic to the point of being nonsensical -- and I also saw Body Heat, which is basically the same story except everything is more sexy and violent and there's a lot of that nudity you only find in movies from the '80s, and also it was filmed during the brief window of time when Kath ...more
Harold
Classic noir. Cain uses the same template for both Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice. To reduce it to it’s simplest form, it is “Man meets married woman; they conspire to kill her husband; once the deed is done everything unravels.” The difference is in the details, making both books classics of the genre.

Cain’s writing is concise and to the point. He has an unerring ear for dialogue. The movies based on the books were also memorable and in both cases stuck pretty close to the
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Sandra
Questo breve giallo per me è un capolavoro. Michele Mari ne dà, in un saggio ne I demoni e la pasta sfoglia, una definizione azzeccatissima: “La trama è un miracolo di ingegneria giuridico-medico-psicologico-cronologico.-topografica: complessissima ma all’apparenza semplice, secondo l’aurea regola della sprezzatura che contraddistingue i classici”.
Ed è proprio così: ogni pezzo si incastra perfettamente col successivo, i colpi di scena sono mirabilmente calibrati, i personaggi emergono nella loro
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El
My first experience with James M. Cain was in high school, I think my Senior year. I was taking a film class which was absolutely awesome because we watched movies. And maybe took a quiz or two on the movies we watched. I actually learned a lot from the class, about films, film-making, what makes films good, etc. The 1944 classic film directed by Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity, was one of the movies we watched.

It was the only movie we watched that I slept all the way through. I remember seeing F
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Lammoth
Запалих цигара, а димът се сля със сивите гъсти облаци на мрачното небе. Запътих се към запустялата книжарница по вече мокрите улици. Хвърлих цигарата в едно кошче, защото забравих, че не пуша и се запитах защо я запалих, и откъде по дяволите имам шибани цигари.

Отворих скърцащата врата на книжарницата, закачих си бомбето на закачалката и наперено закрачих напред. Нуждаех се от глътка уиски и хубава книжка. Посрещна ме погледът на момичето, което работеше в книжарницата, и което в момента си лаки
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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
When I was at uni I took a course called Film Noir, in which we studied the film noir genre of films - from The Maltese Falcon to Vertigo. One of the movies we watched was Double Indemnity (from 1944 with Barbara Stanwyck), hard to get at the time (our lecturer had to get the VHS from the States - we're talking the year 2000 here). It was a great film that stuck in my head, so I was thrilled to find the book.

Walter Neff is an insurance salesman in Los Angeles - a very good salesman. When he goe
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[Redacted]
An insurance agent falls for another man's wife and they end up plotting to kill him for insurance money. Short, sparse and tightly written, this book is everything I love about noir fiction; loser protagonist, femme fatale, "perfect"plots, double, triple, quadruple etc crosses.

Best line of the book, possibly any book,

"I had killed a man, for money and a woman. I didn't have the money and I didn't have the woman."

Nice, if ever noir fiction could be summed up in two sentences it would be these t
...more
Franky
Dec 27, 2012 Franky rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: noir
“But all of the sudden she looked at me, and I felt a chill creep straight up my back and into the roots of my hair. ‘Do you handle accident insurance?’”

Give Walter Huff credit. He knows people. He can read them because of his work in the insurance business. So, when he goes to speak to Mr. Nirdlinger about an insurance policy but instead meets Phyllis Nirdlinger, Nirdlinger’s wife, he can see murder in her eyes. Walter, not really the guy you would peg as a cold-blooded murderer type, sees a wa
...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Wow, this was dark. An insurance agent who thinks he knows all the angles meets an attractive woman who seems to have some interest in him, and in organising her husband's death. Aroused by greed and - well, arousal - he throws his lot in with her and plans what he thinks is the perfect murder-cum-insurance scam. Are there degrees of evil, as the Christian conception of hell with its division into purgatory and inferno would have us believe? In any case, our corrupt little protagonist gradually ...more
M.L. Rudolph
1936. A spare suspenseful story that grabs you from the opening scene.

Insurance agent Walter Huff calls on oil executive client Mr Nirdlinger to renew his policies. Mrs Nirdlinger answers the door in her bathing suit. Huff is hooked. The dame knows it.

What follows is a taut tale of murder, guilt, and betrayal. Huff, a reasonably successful agent, falls into the clutches of the femme fatale for what? Lust? Greed? Weakness? He just falls. Hard. And does her bidding. He's as successful at murder as
...more
Nancy
More a pamphlet than an actual book at 115 pages, this rip roaring noir is a classic that is both a little ridiculous and yet totally satisfying in every way. The action per page ratio is as high as any book I've ever read. And yet Cain still crams in incredible asides like this:

"I stared into the darkness some more that night. I had killed a man, for money and a woman. I didn't have the money and I didn't have the woman."

effectively defining the whole genre.

Yes, as Sally notes, it is occasiona
...more
Mala
A really good thriller,having some really bad people. Three stars cause the ending was a let down.
I think watching the movie will complete the experience.
Tristram
“Maybe I’m crazy. But there’s something in me that loves Death. I think of myself as Death, sometimes. In a scarlet shroud, floating through the night. I’m so beautiful then. And sad. And hungry to make the whole world happy, b taking them out where I am, into the night, away from all trouble, all unhappiness.”

There are some things that should not be said at first dates. Like not believing in regular showers, or having a problem with one’s nasal septum, which leads to snoring like a freight trai
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Carol
I enjoy staying up very late and finishing a very satisfying novel. “Double Indemnity” by James Cain is a fabulous book. I’ve read it before, and I’ll read it again. It’s hugely pleasurable, top-notch fiction of a caliber that’s rarely seen. “Double Indemnity” is such a powerful and intriguing novel that it inspired Camus to write “L’Etranger.” How’s that for influential?

Think of mysteries in the 1930's and you immediately think about hard-boiled crime writers. Cain is one such novelist, but “Do
...more
Ctgt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Terri Lynn
I have enjoyed the classic movie made from this book for many years and was delighted to find that the book is just as good. James Cain's writing is as clear, crisp, and streamlined as Dashiell Hammett's and this was a solidly great read. I blasted through it within a day, loving every second of it. What happens when an insurance agent happens to meet a client's wife, foolishly decides he is in love with her just from her looks, and both plans and carries out the murder of her husband to defraud ...more
Samantha Glasser
Double Indemnity is the story of Walter Huff, an insurance salesman who one day gets mixed up with the wrong woman. Phyllis catches his eye when he goes to her home to renew her husband's auto policy. He catches her eye when he mentions life insurance. The two pair up to get rid of the husband and collect on the policy, but Phyllis' beautiful step-daughter, her boyfriend Nino, and Huff's boss all manage to get in the way.

The book differs little from the film version except for the ending, which
...more
Rauf
Walter Huff came up with a "genius" scheme to make $50,000. He told the idea to Phyllis Nerdlinger. Mrs. Nerdlinger's husband would be duped to sign an insurance policy with a double indemnity clause. Then they killed him. Well, Huff did it. But Huff was not aware that Dolores wasn't as innocent as she looked. He thought he was puppetmastering the whole scheme. But he didn't. No he didn't. Then Huff's colleague at the insurance agency, the Head of Claims Dept., a man named Keyes began to suspect ...more
Bill
A very short review for a short novel.

This was quite a good beach read...I'm glad I read it and enjoyed it quite a bit. I read it while on vacation, and have since read another and am now into another novel. I say this because I can now only remember vague details of Double Indemnity :)
So I guess it really doesn't have that lasting impression on me. I did enjoy the quick read at the time, though!
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Confession for Love 1 10 Feb 20, 2014 08:28AM  
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Pulp Fiction: September 2012 - Double Indemnity 28 73 Dec 28, 2012 10:26PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Can't quite find the right edition? 3 34 Oct 02, 2011 03:07PM  
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James Mallahan Cain was an American journalist and novelist. Although Cain himself vehemently opposed labelling, he is usually associated with the hardboiled school of American crime fiction and seen as one of the creators of the 'roman noir'.

He was born into an Irish Catholic family in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of a prominent educator and an opera singer. He inherited his love for music from h
...more
More about James M. Cain...
The Postman Always Rings Twice Mildred Pierce The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and Selected Stories The Cocktail Waitress (Hard Case Crime #109) Serenade

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“I loved her like a rabbit loves a rattlesnake” 20 likes
“I had killed a man, for money and a woman. I didn't have the money and I didn't have the woman.” 16 likes
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