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Publisher's Summary

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 1936, this novel reaffirmed James M. Cain as a virtuoso of the roman noir.
©1936 James M. Cain (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

What listeners say about Double Indemnity

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Cain, still the crime master!

Double Indemnity; when Cain is good, he is brilliant. Who else writes crime like this-sudden and gripping? Not word that doesn't drive the story forward with a you-are-thereness few writers can rival. Crime in Cain's novel is like an impulsive, illicit passion, when it's done, the partners separate in mutual disaffection. The intricate insurance scam and murder plot is masterful. Cain's style is odd yet apt and he can write dialogue with the real rhythm of speech and remarkably, Cain's language doesn't feel dated. I found that the terse, controlled tone of the narrator, James Naughton, exactly suited Walter Huff, telling us just how it was, his nightmare venture into crime.

And Audible, bring us MORE of the fabulous James M. Cain!

6 people found this helpful

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Straight down the line good

Would you listen to Double Indemnity again? Why?

I have already listened to this several times -- sometimes as soon as I have finished it I start it from the beginning again.

What did you like best about this story?

Double Indemnity (the original) is my favorite movie, and although I knew that the story was quite different (I knew some of the twists that the movie left out so they didn't surprise me), I had not expected it to be this good. Seeing Phyllis -- and her doomed husband-- Lola, Nino, Norton and especially Keyes through Walter Huff's embittered eyes adds a dimension to them that the narration in the film doesn't really show. This doesn't take anything away from the film, and I am glad that Billy Wilder had the sense to stay out of the weeds that this story takes its readers into.

Which scene was your favorite?

There were a couple of them that were not in the film. The scene in which Phyllis and Walter are bickering in the car after the murder was a hoot. (She tries to throw him out of the car and he threatens to "sock" her.) The scene in which Barton Keyes figures out how the murder was arranged and blows his stack over how Norton had botched the claim was a close second.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Don't. It's been done to perfection already. (The remade Richard Crenna/Samatha Eggar/Lee J. Cobb version was awful.)

Any additional comments?

Sometimes that narrator seemed to slip into what I can only call "a Goodfellas accent." It was rather jarring and sporadic, but this is just a small quibble in what was generally a riveting and well-told story.

5 people found this helpful

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Another Classic

Cain is always good. And this is deservedly a noir classic. Like Postman, excellent and a lot accomplished in a short novel. Many writers could learn from his lean style.

4 people found this helpful

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Brilliant!

This was a brilliant story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The fact reader too was really good and kept to an even pace that made listening a pleasure.

3 people found this helpful

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Great player, great book.

I've always loved audiobooks. Your players functionality makes it an easy, and a great experience! The book narration is Okay.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

a solid listen

Classic book from which the "film noir" of the same name is based. This is a story of seedy seduction, double dealing and intrigue leading to ultimate doom. Film ends quite a bit differently from the book, but bottom line is that these two main characters really deserve each other. This is a good presentation, capably read. I found it quite an entertaining listen and give it a solid recommendation.

3 people found this helpful

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Complicated, thorough and surprising.

Classic, I was referred to by a fan, that did not disappoint. The narration was excellent adding an atmosphere that made the story that much more involving and enjoyable.

2 people found this helpful

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Love it but kind of drag on. The movie was better

Got a little crazy in the end. Keys is too principled to make that deal.

2 people found this helpful

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3 ½ stars.

Not the kind of story I like to read, but it was different.

It’s probably above average for readers who like hard-boiled crime fiction noir.

It’s famous so I was curious. It’s told in first person by Walter Huff. At times he talks directly to the reader using the word “you.” Walter is an insurance salesman. He sounds like a good salesman – a smart guy. But he’s a dweeb or goof or something odd when it comes to love. He talks to a woman a couple times and claims he’s in love. Something happens and he is immediately out of love. He talks to another woman a couple times and says that is true love. And when he loves someone, murder is just something to do for them. Weird. But I like weird things.

Although, his murder motive is not just for love. Huff claims the big score appeals to him. And since he’s an insurance guy he knows how to get around the problems.

The main story is about two people planning a murder. They are the bad guys. We are never in the murder victim’s head. We are in the good guys’ heads just briefly – when we listen to insurance company executives discuss the insurance claim. That part was a little boring.

I did not like the ending. It was disappointing and vague. I had to make assumptions. It was bad news for the bad guys, so I suppose that makes it a happy ending for good guys. But I wanted something more.

This was written in 1935-36. There’s something neat about the dialogue. The writer did not grow up watching TV, movies, etc. So he sounds different from contemporary writers. I liked it. There is a directness about it.

It is a third the length of a regular novel.

AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
James Naughton was excellent.

Genre: crime fiction.

6 people found this helpful

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Decent source material, not a patch on the film

Even as a short story, it seems padded with inconsequential detail. Not quite as gritty as the dialogue of Chandler or Hammett, Cain has a pedestrian style that is a bit thin on character. The entirety of the main character's personality seems to be displayed through his inability to conjugate the verb 'to do". Thank goodness for Billy Wilde and Raymond Chandler, and perhaps the Hays Code, for the making the film infinitely more dynamic and engaging, particularly its ending. It was interesting to see the snippets of where the film came from, but it wouldn't stand the test of time on its own.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Philip R. Symons
  • 03-12-21

Suspense!

Don't ask how, but I listened to this a few years ago and wasn't really into it.
I just gave it another go and it was brilliant. I nearly tanked through it in one go.

Great story which kept me guessing, and it wasn't short of surprises along the way.

I've not seen the 1944 film version, but I hope it handles the suspense as well as the audiobook.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-20-18

Great listen

Love the story. Really enjoyed the voice of the narrator. The actual plan is wonderfully thought out.I would highly recommend this book.

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  • L
  • 05-02-18

Classic Noir

The narration left a little to be desired, but this was a fun read nonetheless. Short and tense, with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes. I need to go rewatch the film now.

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  • Mrs W.
  • 03-28-16

James Naughton is perfect for Noir

Love this book, the story is clever and full of quotable lines...the film was excellent and James Naughton narration suits this genre.
Love it!!!