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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it's still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Death Benefits Mass Market Paperback – November 27, 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Fans of Thomas Perry's popular series featuring Jane Whitefield, the Seneca Indian woman who helps people disappear (The Face-Changers, Shadow Woman, et al.) may be disappointed when they discover that Death Benefits doesn't feature the heroine who has won this writer so many new readers. But the disappointment won't last longer than the first page of this intriguing and extremely well-written new thriller, whose hero, John Walker, a data analyst for a large insurance company, deserves a series of his own.

When a security man named Max Stillman plucks Walker out of the office pool and dragoons him into investigating a fraud against the McClaren Life and Casualty, Walker's previously safe life takes a new and potentially dangerous turn. As the pair begin searching for the missing employee, who signed off on the huge (and phony) payoff of a death claim, and follow her to a grave in a Midwestern wheat field, Walker discovers talents he never knew he had and a thirst for vengeance. With the mysterious Stillman, he tracks the conspirators to a New Hampshire village and an explosive and shocking conclusion to a fraud that's much older than either of the men might have guessed. Like Don Winslow, whose California Fire and Life also focused on insurance fraud, Perry manages to make even the dusty back corners of the corporate world a likely setting for mystery and mayhem. This is a sharp, suspenseful, successful debut for a pair of unlikely compatriots, marked by Perry's edgy, noirish style, lively dialogue, and superb pacing. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Perry (Blood Money; The Face Changers) serves up a clever entertainment (in the Graham Greene sense of the word) set in the high-stakes insurance world. After a deliberately ambiguous prologue (just why is Ellen Snyder going to an L.A. airport hotel before dawn?), we learn that Ellen, working out of the Pasadena office of a prestigious San Francisco insurance company called McClaren's, recently authorized a 12$- million death benefit payment to a man who turned out to be an imposter. Now both the imposter and Ellen have navished, and McClaren's has called in mysterious operative Max Stillman to investigate the apparent conspiracy to defraud. Stillman oh-so-deftly draws young John Walker, an analyst in the main San Francisco office, into the investigation. Walker cooperates with Stillman because he doesn't believe Ellens's guilty; he's still a little bit in love with her from their training class days, although Ellen's career plans left no room for more than a casual interoffice romance. Casual is the operative word here: a casual remark from Walker to an enigmatic computer hacker named Serena leads to a seriously steamy interlude. And casual is the best way to describe Perry's seemingly effortless method of developing character and building suspense. His style is so assured as to be invisible, seamlessly supplying plot and character information as the chase leads from California to Chicago, Miami and finally a small town in New Hampshire. Though the finale echoes the premise of a particular Dachiell Hammett story, everything else feels as fresh as dawn. (Jan. 16) Forecast: Perry won an Edgar for The Butcher's Boy, and Metzger's Dog was New York Times Notable Book of the Year. This is his finest novel yet and, if sold with enthusiasm, could chart significant numbers. The bold evocative, b&w jacket will help, as will the four-city author tour.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (November 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804115427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804115421
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Charlotte Vale-Allen VINE VOICE on February 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Thomas Perry's work since his first book, Butcher's Boy. Perry is one of the rare writers who never inflicts himself on his material, but rather allows the characters to evolve and speak for themselves. His writing is spare, never cluttered, and his characters are always fully realized and highly distinctive. Death Benefits is a fine example of a writer at peak form. Aside from a truly intriguing plot line that extrapolates on the possibilities of misusing life insurance that have not (at least to my knowledge) previously been explored, we have a central character who, at the age of twenty-four, grows up within the pages of this book--ably and entertainingly pulled along by the fascinating Stillman and the clever Serena. What I particularly liked about the character of Stillman, aside from his ingenuity, is his humor and wisdom. There's a lot of truth about life, and about the process of personal growth in these pages. Much as I enjoyed it, though, I found the "bad guys" to be rather an implausible creation. That said, this is a thoughtful and entertaining book, and the last hundred pages of Death Benefits make for a breathless ride. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
In Pasadena, California, insurance agent Ellen Snyder approves the payment of the twelve million-dollar death benefit to an impostor. Not long afterward, Ellen vanishes somewhere between the nearby airport and apparently LA. The impostor has also disappeared. A stunned McClaren Life and Casualty hires private investigator Max Stillman to investigate the fraud.

After making inquiries in both the Pasadena and the San Fransicso based home office, Max successfully recruits John Walker, an analyst working for his client, to assist him on the case. Max believes John can help him because he amorously knew Ellen when they were trainees. John agrees to help because he believes the woman he still loves is innocent of any wrongdoing. With opposite motives, John and Max begin a trek around the country in an effort to locate the money and the two culprits behind the felony.

If anyone had doubts that no one does suspense thrillers better than Thomas Perry does, just read the exciting, action-packed and character driven DEATH BENEFITS. Only a great writer with the talent of Mr. Thomas can turn insurance companies and related fraud seem glamorous and exhilarating, but that is what the author accomplishes in this fabulous tale. Max and John make a powerful team even as their individual traits make them seem like real people. The who-done-it is cleverly designed from the start, when Ellen flees into the night, and never eases up as the audience has another mystery from one of the genre greats.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree with those that liked the characters of John Walker and Max Stillman as well as the premise of this novel. As the characters worked their way through the puzzle of how somebody was defrauding McLaren Life and Casualty out of millions of dollars the intrigue gets more complex, interesting and very dangerous. However, the answer to the puzzle struck me as so implausable that after following what had become a real head scratching story, I could not help but wonder why the author had chosen to go there. I have enjoyed all of the Jane Whitefield books and am still looking for a copy of The Butcher's Boy, but this book is simply not up to what I have come to expect from this author. It deserves a better ending.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
While Perry has never matched the quality of Butcher's Boy, Death Benefits makes a wonderful read. The story is suspenseful (if not altogether plausible) and he again creates interesting multidimensional protagonists. Like all his books, this one includes extensive descriptive settings so the reader always has a strong physical point of view to accompany the narrative.
Some reviewers have had a problem with the ending, but I found it a unique twist. Yes, one must suspend disbelief when reading; but, what fun thriller doesn't require that? The ending is a bit abrupt; but, you gotta stop the story sometime.
This is a great book to read at the beach or while travelling. It sure helped me pass a couple long train rides.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Only issue is whether to give it a 4 or 5. I really like Thomas Perry and may be unduly biased. On the other hand, everyone I have Recommended him to has liked it. This could have been a series as with Jane Whitfield or the Butchers Boy. So far not. A great reread too.
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By Nick G on January 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Max Stillman is a security consultant called into the San Francisco office of McClaren Life and Casualty, his job is to investigate the disappearance of one of their employees, a young woman named Ellen.
As Max begins his questioning of the employees, he comes to the discovery of John Walker, the young claims analyst who once had an affair with the missing co-worker.
Shocked that he has been chosen to accompany Max, John, tries to understand why he is in this mess, and as the pieces fall into place, he finds out that Ellen disappeared quickly after paying a large insurance claim to an imposter.
As the two men work together, one looking to clear Ellen's name and the other looking to convict her, they will uncover an evil conspiracy neither is prepared for.
"Death Benefits" is a first-rate, fast paced thriller, that can NOT be put down. From page one the reader is hurled into a maze of unexpected danger, double-crosses, mysterious characters and un-bearable suspense.
Thomas Perry author of several very good thrillers, none of which compare to this, has written a breakout novel that thriller readers should dive into.
"Death Benefits" deserves a spot on all the bestseller list's!
Nick Gonnella
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