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Death Benefits

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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  882 Ratings  ·  70 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
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Published March 13th 2001 by Random House (first published January 1st 2001)
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Jim
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perry's characters are always excellent, but he managed to make an even better set this time. Instead of one main character, there are 2 with a third coming in halfway through. The premise was a bit far out, but very cool. Who knew something as mundane as insurance fraud could spawn such a great book?

While Metzger's Dog is still probably my favorite of all his standalones, this isn't far behind.
Robert Rosenthal
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jim
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
What a great story ! The team of Stillman, Walker, and Mary Catherine was a blast to read. Incredibly hard book to put down, I enjoyed thoroughly. Can't wait to read second book in Walker series. Perry is master story teller whose books are chock full of suspense . Perry's books always deliver in the mystery and thriller genre. 5 Star yarn to be sure. Be sure to pick this one up and enjoy the ride.
Paul
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn into this book when someone posted a quote of this scene:
---
Stillman sat down and squinted up at the waiter for a few seconds as though the two of them were in a poker game and the waiter had just raised. The waiter held a tiny pad in the palm of his hand with a pen poised over it. Stillman said, “Can your bartender make a real mai tai?”

“Old-fashioned kind?” asked the waiter, now assessing Stillman with veiled interest.

“That’s right,” said Stillman. “The old-fashioned kind.”

“Two mai
...more
Tony
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DEATH BENEFITS. (2001). Thomas Perry. ****.
Many years ago I read Perry’s first novel, “The Butcher’s Boy,” which went on to win an Edgar for First Novel. For some reason I never kept up with Perry’s works, even though that first novel was quite an achievement. In fact, I should probably re-read it; most of my memory of it is blurry because of the time factor. I’m not sure where in the parade of thrillers this novel fits, but it is typical of Perry’s talents to deliver We are introduced to the st
...more
Eric_W
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gary
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
First half was interesting. I liked it a lot. A so-so last half gets it three stars overall.
Loy
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third time for me to read this book since it came out.
Just as good.

Great. Book.
Mizloo
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Perry is a terrific writer. This book was a nail-biter and page-turner for me. The prologue and set-up in the first half of the book got my attention early on and held it completely; I was interested in even the totally strange character of the security specialist, since both the victim and her ex-boyfriend were smart, unusual lead characters. But I found the last quarter of the book a lot less engaging, since the premise just didn't hold up, with melodramatic events and explanations. Whi ...more
Ron Boyd
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Off beat but good picaresque crime thriller

I recently read Perry's Silence and didn't think much of it. It was formulaic and parts were difficult to believe. Death benefits is the opposite. Quirky, fast paced a surprise around every corner. The insurance analyst gets involved in an insurance conspiracy scam. He transforms from a Clark Kent almost into a man of steel. There is lots of action, a little sex and romance and some unlikely but skilful plot twists. I recommend this book and rank it as
...more
Clayton Yuen
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good narrative murder mystery with very weird twists and turns. It is always a pleasure to read a Thomas Perry novel because of the strong and entertaining characters; they keep you off balance and scratching your head in wonderment.

Four stars for this very good adventure, but I classify some authors as good light background reading, the words flow past quickly and seamlessly, entertaining yet serves as a light companion read ....
Cynthia Johnson
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! Suspense from the very beginning!
Johnny
Feb 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
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
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
Zade
Jan 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lee
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Doris
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This was an incredibly difficult book to put down, as every time I reached the point I planned to stop, the action picked up and made it so I had to keep reading.

Although a few points and revelations were obvious, some of them were a shock, making this reading well worth it. It was an interesting take on the boy-meets-girl story, with the lead character introduced as a cubicle drone who turned out to be much more, and the secondary character seeming just a little bit mysterious clear to the end.
...more
Dobby0390
Vintage Perry: Twists, turns, sharp dialog, characters that grow from a charcoal sketch to a watercolor impression to a study in oils - tones and hues and layers that give the illusion of solid mass. The story started more slowly than I'd expected, although that might have been my own level of concentration lagging. At some point, though, I tumbled head over heels into the story and didn't want to leave. Minor details like eating, sleeping, and feeding the dachshunds went by the wayside. Well, e ...more
Joyce
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
Farhan
Oct 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an 'old cop-rookie cop' style novel where the old cop is, in fact, a seasoned ex-cop who now does investigative work for an insurance company; the rookie is an insurance data analyst who is along for the ride as his former girlfriend seems to have perpetrated a 12 million dollar fraud, and he is determined to prove her innocence. Perry's characters show surprising psychological depth by the genre standards and extricate themselves with ingenuity from seemingly hopeless situations.

Nevert
...more
Brenda Mcallister
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the characters in this book and their adventure kept me reading half the night. Good writing , solid story you can follow and bad guys you are happy to see defeated.
Insurance statistics never had it so good. Who else could actually make statistics interesting?
Office worker caught up in something bigger for a ex gf. Pulled from routine work maybe because of his precise working habits or maybe because he knew and believed in the accused. Step by step a stranger pulls him into an investiga
...more
Joyce
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
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
Felicia
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jack
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, thriller, mystery
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.
Frank
Jun 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
[library audiobook, plot summary elsewhere]

I generally like the Perry books. This includes the theme of tracking people using electronic means, and this was written years ago. I liked the opening, liked the lead character pining for a lost love, liked the hacker chick, liked the grizzled veteran PI. But the mechanics of the original scam which drove the plot didn't make sense to me, the final scenes in New Hampshire woods went on too long [also a problem in another Perry book], and the ending de
...more
Rrager15
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had previously read a Thomas Perry book and did such a good job of forgetting it that I accidentally read this one. I won't make that mistake again. Terrible pacing, spending way too much time on routine items (like traveling to Florida during a hurricane) while glossing over major plot developments. Combine that with an ending that really stretches the believable and you get a two star review. The characters were interesting and showed potential but that wasn't sufficient to sustain me.
Johnnie Gee
Nov 16, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Thank goodness this book finally had an ending. It went on and on and on. The two main characters (and the third that came in later) got into and out of situations that stretched the imagination. However, the clues they found that led them to one place after another and FINALLY to the conclusion stretched it even more.

Judith
Aug 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Susan
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Paul Marshall
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stillman, the gruff, utilitarian henchman of the insurance company innocent Walker works for is the driving character of this book. An early murder of Walker's former flame and co-worker drives the action. Lots of danger, romance, intrigue, suspense. Insurance investigation was never so titillating.
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Thomas Perry is the author of 25 novels. He 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 as a writer and producer of prime time network television shows.
He lives in
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