Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity

by James M. Cain

Tautly narrated and excruciatingly suspenseful, Double Indemnity gives us an X-ray view of guilt, of duplicity, and of the kind of obsessive, love love that devastates everything it touches.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 4.11
  • Pages: 115
  • Publish Date: May 14th 1989 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Isbn10: 0679723226
  • Isbn13: 9780679723226

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A married woman, a woman Huff would be willing to turn himself inside out if that would insure her love. Huff has made a career out of reading people and when he meets Phyllis she asks him a handful of suggestive questions and the guy is already formulating a full blown plan for insurance fraud. Car insurance they are betting I don't get in an accident. Walter Huff would love stopping by to see me. Huff is so intent on the details of this insurance rip-off that he never learns much about Phyllis. My recommendation is read the book and then watch the movie, a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Besides this novel he wrote two other novels that are not only considered noir fiction classics, but also translated well to film, The Postman Always Rings Twiceand Mildred Pierce. In college I took a film and novel class and Mildred Pierce was one of the books/movies on the syllabus. Cain because he wrote such great dialogue Hollywood did not have to deviate far from his original intentions.

The film adaptation was well done, but the story is pretty much the same, with some minor exceptions like changing the last names of the main characters, so I dont see why not to hire James M. Walter Huff, an Insurance Agent, really good at his job, meets a married woman, Phyillis Nirdlingler, and they plot to kill her husband for getting the juicy payment of a double indemnity insurance policy. Yes, Phyllis is described like a sexy lady, but I think that only lust isnt enough motivation for a character like Walter Huff to agree so quick. Double Indemnity is a smart story, with an engaging narrative, showing the dark side of human nature and how a couple can coldy design, step-by-step, the perfect way to murder a person in order to get money, and how the chaos of real life is ruthless with everybody, good or bad.

In fact, the only adversary more likely to separate a man from his giblets is the femme bot toting high caliber machine-gun jubblies. Walters an insurance salesman who finds himself involved in a plot with a rich mans wife to ice hubby and collect on the life insurance. At the risk of sounding oxymoronical, Walter comes across as a decent bloke provided you discount the positively reprehensible actions in which he finds himself a willing and active participant. As detailed, intricate and well-crafted a plot as I have witnessed in my time with crime fiction and I was awed by how on cue every element of the story was. Dont get me wrong, Walters character is superbly drawn and he brings an interesting emotional dynamic to the story, I just wasnt as emotionally invested in him as Ive been with other lead characters that had a better allotment of decency to be twisted by the powers of evil.

First, I tried reading The Postman Always Rings Twice to prepare for my civil service exam, but it was all about murder and didnt have anything at all about postal regulations.

However, Walter needs a partner, that is, an outside plant, a customer willing to join him in playing the game, in placing a bet, in putting the chips down in a gamble to commit a murder that will look like suicide so he and his partner can collect big time, double indemnity, on the life insurance policy. Walter finds his plant in Phyllis who lives with her husband and stepdaughter in that Spanish house in Hollywoodland, a house looking like all the others . Phyllis is more than happy to join Walter in killing her husband to collect the money. Of course, for Phyllis, killing her husband is much, much more than just murder and collecting from the insurance company. Here is an example of Walter Huff's reflection: "There's nothing so dark as a railroad track in the middle of the night.

Cain was a man who didn't believe in foreplay. And, even though foreplay can be so appealing in far better developed novels, I find that I don't need it here. Like, blowing bubbles with a giant wad of gum in your mouth fun. Like, pink bubble gum fun.

Only the eras and instruments change and though set in L.A. against the insurance tables of the '30s, Cain writes as if he spit this out on his Mac. The story is narrated by Walter Huff, an agent of General Fidelity of California and to hear him tell it, one of the best at what he does. Smooth enough to get past the maid, Walter is greeted by the lady of the house, Phyllis Nirdlinger, donned in blue house pajamas and "a shape to set a man nuts." Libido isn't the only thing Phyllis triggers, inquiring about taking out accident insurance on her husband, accident being the type of policy that only someone who believes their loved one is about to have an accident would request. Unable to get around Phyllis when it comes to selling her husband insurance products, Walter is summoned three nights later after the maid has gone home and Mr. Nirdlinger is out. One thing leads to another and when Phyllis visits Walter at his place in Los Feliz, he confronts her about her intention to arrange an "accident" for her husband. Feigning shock initially, Phyllis comes around to discussing her ideas with the insurance agent, who thinking with the wrong organ, offers to help. In the first place, some fool in the insurance business, five or six years ago, put out a newspaper story that most accidents happen in people's own bathtubs, and since then bathtubs, swimming pools, and fishponds are the first thing they think of. Then a swimming pool is like a tennis court, you no sooner have one than it's a community affair, and you don't know who might come popping in on you at any minute. And then it's one of those things where you've got to watch for your chance, and you can't plan it in advance, and know where you're going to come out to the last decimal point. I'm listening." After spending a night or two determining that Phyllis hasn't done anything that would land her in trouble if Mr. Nirdlinger were to meet with an accident, Walter makes an appointment with her to discuss accident insurance for her husband, asking her in advance to provide a witness. The man he's most worried about is Keyes, head of the claims department at General Fidelity, tiresome, but "a wolf on a phony claim." Walter proposes to Phyllis that her husband meet his end in a railroad accident, explaining that the odds against such a claim are so high that his company would pay off double, $50,000, in what's known as double indemnity. Keeping his distance from Phyllis, Walter spends personal time with Lola and learns that accidental death seems to follow Phyllis Nirdlinger around. 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. It was right after that night when I was watching the moon come up over the ocean with Lola. Because the idea that Lola would put on an act like that in the courtroom, and that then Phyllis would lash out and tell her the truth, that was too horrible for me to think about. It wasn't anything like what I had felt for Phyllis. It was just a sweet peace that came over me as soon as I was with her, like when we would drive along for an hour without saying a word, and then she would look up at me and we still didn't have to say anything. The changes in topography to Los Angeles or to technology (the lengths Walter goes to make sure no one telephoned or rang his doorbell on the night of the murder are precious) add to the charm of the novel as opposed to making it feel old. Far from a full-throttled femme fatale propelling the story forward as they have in film, we only see of Phyllis what Walter does, which seems like it's through his white T-shirt as it's coming off.

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. (It rarely ever is, right?) As love and loyalty to one's work complicated things even more, this story becomes all that much more exciting. Who should read it?: If you like crime and/or mysteries, or even more the femme fatale style of writing then I think you'll enjoy this one.

The murder itself is carried through without any glitches (or so it would first seem), before a college of Walter starts to suspect foul play, and of course from here, you can forget about any happy ending. The novel is carried forward using a brilliant narrative full of sharp sentences, which are direct, and to the point.

Cain served as president, in 1910, he began working as a journalist for the Baltimore Sun. He was drafted into the United States Army and spent the final year of World War I in France writing for an Army magazine. On his return to the United States he continued working as a journalist, writing editorials for the 'New York World' and articles for 'American Mercury'.