This book, more novella than novel, is intricately plotted and a very quick read. Wholly plot-driven, the book is a classic morality tale. A seductive woman, Phyllis Nirdlinger, desires to kill her wealthy husband. An otherwise intelligent insurance agent, Walter Huff, falls under her spell. Together they put together a seemingly failsafe plan to do the dastardly deed, making it appear as if it were an accident, so that the double indemnity clause in an insurance policy will kick into play. The problem is that all is not as it initially seems.
Written as a first person narrative by the insurance agent, the writing is tight, spare, and lean. No word is wasted. Yet, the minimalism works to the advantage of the story, as it makes the intricacy of the plotting clear to the reader. Having seen the film with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in the lead roles, I kept hearing Fred MacMurray's voice in my head as I read the book. While the film deviates from the book in a number of ways, it is classic film noir at its best and well-worth viewing. Likewise, the book is a classic in its own right, and those who like hard-boiled crime fiction will not be disappointed.