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Double Indemnity

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  17,420 ratings  ·  979 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.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Kindle Edition, 115 pages
Published January 5th 2011 by Vintage (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

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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  17,420 ratings  ·  979 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Alejandro
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective, romance, novel
Double as good!


BOOK TO FILM

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
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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, ve
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Kemper
Sep 04, 2012 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
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Glenn Russell
Nov 28, 2013 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. Alert: my review contains what could be considered sp
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Julie
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's obvious that James M. Cain was a man who didn't believe in foreplay.

Foreplay? Nah. The broads don't need any of that aggravation.

Just open the door, introduce yourself, maybe buy the dame a drink, then BAM!

Under those blue pajamas was a shape to set a man nuts.

Set a man nuts, and kill her husband, too.

Sure, why not?

Bada bing, bada boom!

But, wait! Turns out the job was sloppy and the doll's a wench.

That's all it takes, one drop of fear, to curdle love into hate.

Ah, Mr. Cain knows how to cu
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Double indemnity , James Mallahan Cain
Double Indemnity is a 1943 crime novel, written by American journalist-turned-novelist James M. Cain. It was first published in serial form in Liberty magazine in 1936 and then was one of "three long short tales" in the collection Three of a Kind. The novel later served as the basis for the film of the same name in 1944, adapted for the screen by the novelist Raymond Chandler and directed by Billy Wilder. Walter Huff, an insurance agent, falls for the marrie
...more
Carol
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OMG! I cannot believe the ending!

Plain old downright great entertainment here from beginning to end with Cain's story of how to commit the perfect murder.

While I was totally engrossed in the telling, there were a couple of times I had to stretch my imagination a bit, but I loved it just the same, and oh that ending......raised my rating up a whole star!

Megan Johnson
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
...more
Joe Valdez
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-crime
James M. Cain shoots onto my list of favorite authors with Double Indemnity. Appearing in serial format in Liberty magazine in 1936, Cain's tale was published as a novella in 1943 and became the source material for a film classic adapted by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler and directed by Wilder the following year. The text is short, poisonously sweet and became the model for much film noir to come, with a devilish dame snaring a useful dope in her web of deceit and murder. Only the eras and in ...more
Steven Godin
I recently watched the multi-Oscar nominated Billy Wilder film classic from 1944 which remains one of my favourite films of all time ( Wilder scripted with Raymond Chandler). So had to read again on impulse over one night while the rain was lashing down outside, I settled down to be once again captured by Cain's moody masterpiece.

This is simply put, quintessential noir. Dark, menacing, seductive and taut as wire, this short novel from James M. Cain really packs a nasty punch.
Insurance investigat
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Dean the Bibliophage
Double Indemnity, written by James Cain and originally published in 1943, is a classic noir crime novel. In this dark and thrilling story – interlaced with contrasting allusions to the Black Widow and imagery of Hollywood glamour – we encounter protagonist Walter Huff and antagonist-femme fatale Phyllis Nirdlinger, the former also the book’s narrator. From the purchase of an accident policy to murder, betrayal and suicide, James Cain creates suspense on every page and each sentence is polished t ...more
Fabian {Councillor}
Judging by its popularity on Goodreads, not too many people appear to be familiar with James M. Cain's novel "Double Indemnity". That's quite comprehensible, considering that first of all, it's a rather old book which has successfully been adapted into an equally old black-and-white Hollywood classic, and second of all, the story is rather dated and not quite as relevant or interesting today as it may have been thirty, fifty, eighty years ago. I still love it to death. Let me elaborate a bit on ...more
Richard Derus
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Cbj
Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I make no conscious effort to be tough, or hard-boiled, or grim, or any of the things I am usually called. I merely try to write as the character would write, and I never forget that the average man, from the fields, the streets, the bars, the offices, and even the gutters of his country, has acquired a vividness of speech that goes beyond anything I could invent, and that if I stick to this heritage, this logos of the American countryside, I shall attain a maximum of effectiveness with very lit ...more
Dan Schwent
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulp
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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Richard
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
Jason Koivu
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
...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
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 08, 2009 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
...more
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
...more
David Schaafsma
Double Indemnity (1935) is written by the same author, James Cain, who wrote The Postman Always Rings Twice, which I also just read. I have more than once seen the great 1944 film, which was directed by Billy Wilder and co-written by Wilder and another wonderful noir detective writer, Raymond Chandler. It’s a tight little architecturally-designed novel about an insurance salesman who meets a woman interested in taking out accident insurance on her husband. For some reason (okay, she’s attractive ...more
Mish
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
Bettie
Oct 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bbc radio listeners
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03jyp1c

Description: Walter Huff has a good steady job in the insurance business and leads a quiet life. Then he meets and falls in love with Phyllis, an unhappily married woman, enquiring about accident insurance for her husband. They come up with a plan in which Phyllis's husband will die an unlikely death, by falling from a moving train. The 'accidental' nature of his demise will trigger the 'double indemnity' clause of the policy, forcing the insurance company
...more
Toby
Sep 26, 2011 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
...more
Marwan
May 17, 2016 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
...more
unknown
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
Eadie
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
This is a very short and very quick read. Walter Neff, an insurance salesman, and Phyllis Nardlinger, a femme fatale housewife, plan the perfect murder of Phyllis' husband where they will collect double indemnity from a recently purchased insurance policy. The book is tightly written with a first person narrative by Walter Neff. The murder plans are intricately plotted and cleverly inventive. Will they get away with the murder after they begin to mistrust one another? I suggest you read this noi ...more
Book Concierge
Digital audiobook performed by James Naughton

Walter Huff is an insurance agent who heads out to a Spanish mansion in the hills above Los Angeles to renew – and hopefully upgrade – an automobile policy for Mr Nirdlinger. The client is not at home, and Mrs Nirdlinger asks Huff to return the next night, but before he leaves she also asks about accident insurance. Huff knows the woman is trouble – with a capital T – but he lets himself get reeled in and before you know it …

Cain is a master of the ro
...more
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Guardian Newspape...: Feb 2018 - Double Indemnity 14 17 Feb 27, 2018 04:22AM  
Books2Movies Club: 2018/02 - Double Indemnity 2 10 Feb 16, 2018 10:24AM  
Who Doesn't Love ...: Double Indemnity / James M Cain - 5***** 1 3 Oct 19, 2017 08:50AM  
Play Book Tag: Double Indemnity / James M Cain - 5***** 2 12 Oct 19, 2017 05:58AM  
Around the Year i...: Double Indemnity, by James M. Cain 2 15 Apr 18, 2016 07:56PM  
Insurance Company 3 20 Aug 15, 2015 04:38PM  
Literary Exploration: First Impressions *No Spoilers* 5 29 Jun 08, 2015 03:36AM  

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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
“I loved her like a rabbit loves a rattlesnake” 31 likes
“I had killed a man, for money and a woman. I didn't have the money and I didn't have the woman.” 30 likes
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