Book Review: Double Indemnity by James M Cain | Jo Linsdell

Book Review: Double Indemnity by James M Cain


Book Review Double Indemnity by James M Cain

My thoughts about Double Indemnity by James M Cain

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  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0043M66ZE
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Orion; Read a Great Movie edition (September 9, 2010)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 122 pages

The book synopsis for Double Indemnity by James M Cain

Double Indemnity by James M Cain book cover

A true crime masterpiece, and highly acclaimed 1940s movie

'DOUBLE INDEMNITY is among the finest of all American novels, regardless of genre or style' LA TIMES

'Cain is the master' Tom Wolfe

DOUBLE INDEMNITY is the classic tale of an evil woman motivated by greed who corrupts a weak man motivated by lust.

Walter Huff is an insurance investigator like any other until the day he meets the beautiful and dangerous Phyllis Nirdlinger and falls under her spell. Together they plot to kill her husband and split the insurance. It'll be the perfect murder . . .

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4 stars

Discussing Double Indemnity by James M Cain

Quotes from Double Indemnity by James M Cain

But all of a 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?’

She didn’t have on the blue pajamas this time. She had on a white sailor suit, with a blouse that pulled tight over her hips, and white shoes and stockings. I wasn’t the only one that knew about that shape. She knew about it herself, plenty.

I lit a fire and sat there, trying to figure out where I was at. I knew where I was at, of course. I was standing right on the deep end, looking over the edge, and I kept telling myself to get out of there, and get quick, and never come back. But that was what I kept telling myself. What I was doing was peeping over that edge, and all the time I was trying to pull away from it, there was something in me that kept edging a little closer, trying to get a better look.

‘Phyllis, you seem to think that because I can call it on you, you’re not going to do it. You are going to do it, and I’m going to help you.’

But there’s something in me, I don’t know what. Maybe I’m crazy. But there’s something in me that loves Death. I think of myself as Death, sometimes.

Get this, Phyllis. There’s three essential elements to a successful murder.’ ‘The first is, help. One person can’t get away with it, that is unless they’re going to admit it and plead the unwritten law or something. It takes more than one. The second is, the time, the place, the way, all known in advance –to us, but not to him. The third is, audacity. That’s the one that all amateur murderers forget. They know the first two, sometimes. But that third, only a professional knows.

They pay double indemnity for railroad accidents. That’s just where we cash in.

‘Say, this is a beauty, if I do say it myself. I didn’t spend all this time in this business for nothing, did I? Listen, he knows all about this policy, and yet he don’t know a thing about it. He applies for it, in writing, and yet he don’t apply for it. He pays me for it with his own check, and yet he don’t pay me. He has an accident happen to him and yet he don’t have an accident happen to him. He gets on the train, and yet he don’t get on it.’

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 get to thinking I could crook the wheel myself if I could only put a plant out there to put down my bet. That’s all. When I met Phyllis I met my plant. If that seems funny to you, that I would kill a man just to pick up a stack of chips, it might not seem so funny if you were back of that wheel, instead of out front.


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

‘I told you, I have nothing to go on. Nothing but those tables and my own hunch, instinct, and experience. It’s a slick job, but it’s no accident, and it’s no suicide.’

He was all wrong on how it was done, but he was so near right it made my lips turn numb just to listen to him.

I hung up. I loved her like a rabbit loves a rattlesnake. That night I did something I hadn’t done in years. I prayed.

I don’t know when I decided to kill Phyllis. It seemed to me that ever since that night, somewhere in the back of my head I had known I would have to kill her, for what she knew about me, and because the world isn’t big enough for two people once they’ve got something like that on each other.

Maybe I haven’t explained it right, yet, how I felt about this girl Lola. It wasn’t anything like what I had felt for Phyllis. That was some kind of unhealthy excitement that came over me just at the sight of her. This wasn’t anything like that. It was just a sweet peace that came over me as soon as I was with her.

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Book Review Double Indemnity by James M Cain

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