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Archive for May, 2010

Double Indemnity, by James M Cain

This book has a simple story-line – insurance investigator comes across a femme fatale, falls in love and works up a get-rich-quick scheme which involves killing the lady’s husband. But the magic is in Cain’s writing, as he builds the story in his inimicable style. The book has a good pace and there are no unnecessary deviations or sidelines. The character buildup is excellent, the atmosphere can be felt in the writing and the settings are very believable.

Walter Huff is an insurance investigator, who meets the beautiful Phyllis Nirdingler and falls in love. The two then conspire to kill her husband in such a manner that Phyllis can use the double indemnity clause in her husband’s accident insurance to claim double the usual insurance amount. As with all such plans, things begin to unravel slowly but surely, in ways that the well-planned Huff never anticipated.

Enjoyable though this book is in its own right, it still doesn’t have the raw thrill and evil of The Postman Always Rings Twice. Its there at the beginning but as we come towards the rather tame ending, I was left feeling just that wee bit disappointed.

Still, its a classic and one that can actually be enjoyed in a single setting. For those who like their thrillers fast-paced yet with that touch of reality, this is a good one.

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Review of Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell

Post Mortem is a hard-hitting but well written thriller set in the Virginia town of Richmond, where a series of murders of women has the town terrified. Kay Scarpetta is the Chief Medical Examiner for the town and it’s the responsibility of her office to carry out forensic examination on the victims & the subsequent investigation leading to the identification of the murderer. The novel starts from the point when the fourth murder victim is found and builds up a good scary atmosphere. There are plenty of red herrings in this story but all loose ends do get tied up at the end. Kay Scarpetta is not an extraordinarily sharp detective of the Poirot category but what I liked about the character is that she is believable, someone the reader can associate with in terms of thoughts, emotions and responses.

It must be remembered  that this is a book written in the early 90s, before the era of internet or even regular home computers. Prepare to be taken through situations that seem dated – for instance, DNA testing in this book is still referred to as an almost experimental activity, whereas now its almost commonplace and mainstream. Some of the computing terms used in the book had me chuckling, but then again I had to remember when this book hit the stands.

Overall this book is a good read for one of those lazy afternoons.

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