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Double Indemnity

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  13,945 Ratings  ·  730 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 Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1936)
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Linus He's an anti hero, as compared to "psychotic heroes" of Jim Thompson, David Goodis, etc

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 07, 2012 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 30, 2014 Alejandro rated it really liked it
Shelves: detective, romance, novel, noir
Double as good!


I watched the film adaptation of Double Indemnity and I loved it!

I think that the look of the actress Barbara Stanwyck is the very definition of a femme fatale. I am aware of other great examples like Rita Hayworth in Gilda, Lana Turner in The Postman always rings twice or Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep to name a few, but when the term of “femme fatale” comes to mind, the image of Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity is my first thought.

When I watched for the first
Ooh la la...the femme fatale...

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.

Well, Double Indemnity has one of the most memorable of these vile, vexi
Sep 04, 2012 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Megan Johnson
Dec 11, 2016 Megan Johnson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
To be honest with you, this book wasn't even on my radar. I was having lunch with someone when we got around to talking about my love for Crime Mystery Fiction and they suggested this as their favorite of those type books. Lo and behold, they have a copy of it and I read it that very day. At only a little over 100 pages, it's easy to read and the fast-pace of it makes it all fly by. Oh, and not to mention that it really is that good!

Double Indemnity is about an insurance salesman who meets a wo
Richard Derus
Feb 28, 2012 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
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
Richard Vialet
One of the most tightly written books I've ever read, by the godfather of the type of noir fiction that I love. Not. A. Word. Wasted. In the book, Walter Huff goes to the Hollywood Hills to sell a car insurance renewal to Mr. Nirdlinger. But he gets caught up and starts falling hard for Mrs. Nirdlinger, who doesn't waste any time asking about accident insurance. We can pretty much guess where that leads! But even though we know where this is going, like a car crash, we can't take our eyes away ...more
Glenn Russell
Nov 28, 2013 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The novel begins with first person narrator Walter Huff reflecting back on the sequence of events that started when he remembered a renewal over in Hollywoodland. We read: "That was how I came to this House of Death, that you've been reading about in the papers. It didn't look like a House of Death when I saw it. It was just a Spanish house, like all the rest of them in California." This sense of foreboding hangs over each and every sentence.

Turns out Walter Huff is an insurance salesman who wan
Jason Koivu
Oct 18, 2016 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
My god, the utter callousness of it all!

It's not too spoilery to give you a summary of the book, however, if you intend to read Double Indemnity, I'd suggest not reading the next two sentences. SUMMARY: A woman consults an insurance agent about taking out a special kind of insurance on her husband, the kind which sends up red flags for the agent, red flags which he ignores. Seduced by the woman and greed, the insurance agent helps her commit murder.

The flippant way in which human life is treate

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
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 08, 2009 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jun 07, 2010 Lou rated it it was amazing
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
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
Sep 26, 2011 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
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
Double Indemnity is the second book I read of James M. Cain. I was initially worried going into Double Indemnity as found a few scenarios sounded almost identical to what I read The Postman Always Rings Twice - where the wife of a rich business man teams up with her lover to plot her husbands murder. But fortunately the likeness ended there. Their affair and the characters were nothing like what was in Postman. They were a well-educated couple - a nurse and insurance broker - that were in a love ...more
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
May 17, 2016 Marwan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How come I've never heard of James M. Cain before, I mean the book was amazing, I've enjoyed every minute of it. A thrilling noir novel where the protagonist is the villain ( with little conscience).
The story revolves around Walter Huff, an insurance agent who one day comes to visit his client, Mr. Nirdlinger in his house in order to renew his car insurance. However, he's met by his beautiful wife, Phyllis Nirdlinger, and he falls under her spell. Together they plot to kill the husband after ma
Nov 21, 2014 Arghavan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[من کلی ریویو نوشتهبودم برای این که آقا. :)) پرید همهش؟ :))]

یک. “I had killed a man, for money and a woman. I didn't have the money and I didn't have the woman.”
شاید که بشه کتاب رو توی همین یه جملهش خلاصه کرد.

دو. آقای جیمز ام. کِین با تقریبِ خوبی باهوشترین ه.
داستان حول محور قتل میگذره.. (view spoiler)
May 18, 2012 Harold rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
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
Dec 23, 2014 Cosimo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Avide maree

Un ottimo noir, attraversato con intensità da passioni fatali e enigmatiche: una storia progettata con creatività e sapienza, che delinea un orizzonte umano inquietante e dipinge personaggi profondi e originali, mentre perseguono volontà determinanti. L'autore rende concreta e verosimile una psicologia prismatica e senza legge, con una tecnica sofisticata e selvaggia, senza mai perdere il centro del racconto e disfacendosi di ogni ipotesi prevedibile. Ombre, paure e desideri disegnan
Barry Pierce
Apr 29, 2015 Barry Pierce rated it liked it
The story of an insurance salesman who teams up with a female client in order to kill her husband and bag the insurance money. Written in Cain's signature quick-fire prose and dialogue, this roman-noir harks back to Cain's earlier work The Postman Always Rings Twice. They share suspiciously similar ending devices which might put some off but I think that they work well considering the utter shortness of both works. While I can't say that this was my favourite Cain novel it is certainly one of hi ...more
May 02, 2015 Skip rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
Written in 1936, this noir classic has withstood the test of time when many others have shown their age. Insurance salesman Walter Huff falls for femme fatale, Phyllis Nirdlinger, and they plan her husband's death so they can collect double on his life insurance. Meanwhile, her stepdaughter is dating someone dangerous, and is convinced something is not right. Well done. 4.5 stars.
When small time insurance man Walter Huff meets Phyllis Nirdlinger, her beauty quickly seduced him. The wife of a wealthy oil executive convinces him to help get rid of her husband, but not before a substantial policy was taken out on him. Accident insurance often causes suspicion but when Phyllis’ husband dies from what looks like a train accident, double indemnity kicks in and Walter’s bosses suspect foul play.

James M. Cain is the master at noir with books like The Postman Always Rings Twice,
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
May 02, 2010 Shannon (Giraffe Days) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, crime, 2010
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 go
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
Nov 20, 2013 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, gialli
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
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
Classic story of greed, an evil woman wanting to do away with her husband, and and an insurance agent wanting to commit a perfect murder.
Ed [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
Oct 18, 2014 Lammoth rated it really liked it
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
Oct 07, 2012 Franky rated it really liked it
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
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: Double Indemnity, by James M. Cain 2 12 Apr 18, 2016 07:56PM  
Insurance Company 3 19 Aug 15, 2015 04:38PM  
Literary Exploration: First Impressions *No Spoilers* 5 28 Jun 08, 2015 03:36AM  
Literary Exploration: Final Thoughts *Spoilers* 2 24 Jun 06, 2015 10:34PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: # 16 Double Indemnity 1 2 Feb 23, 2015 04:30PM  
Classic Trash: Double Indemnity: Finished (Spoilers) 9 18 Feb 10, 2015 09:40AM  
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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 about James M. Cain...

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“I loved her like a rabbit loves a rattlesnake” 29 likes
“I had killed a man, for money and a woman. I didn't have the money and I didn't have the woman.” 23 likes
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