Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

Up until a few years ago, I was an insurance agent, but not like Walter Huff. Huff is good at his job, hard-working, and knows the insurance business inside-out. Then he meets a married woman who he falls for immediately. Her name is Phyllis and she has a thought, not even a plan, just a thought of what she would like to do about her husband. We don't realize at the time, but Phyllis knows exactly what she's doing, exactly what she's suggesting, and really has no qualms and is perfectly capable of holding up under pressure. She is not a nice girl, no matter how she seems at first. It doesn't take Huff long to come up with full-blown plan. They'll kill the husband and they'll get away with the insurance money. He has been in the insurance game for a long time and he knows about every angle ever thought up by anyone to try and pull one over...
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A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell

A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell

A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell shows up on several "best mysteries" lists, which is why I added it to my to-read list. I had read several of her Inspector Wexford series, but none of her stand-alone novels. And then it was my Classic Club Spin book for the month, which pushed it to the top of my stack. From the opening sentences, the book had my attention. "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write. There was no real motive and no premeditation; no money was gained and no security." We know from the first chapter, which is only two pages long, who was killed, when they were killed, and who the murderers were. The rest of the book relates what led up to the crime and the aftermath. Eunice Parchman is illiterate, a fact that she is desperate to keep secret. The Coverdales are a decent enough family, intelligent, a little snobby, but overall well-meaning....
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Artemis by Andy Weir

Artemis by Andy Weir

Artemis is at heart a caper story with a sci-fi backdrop. Jazz is a small time criminal who is offered the chance to make big money doing a job she is capable of, because she's brilliant, but is outside of her usual parameters. The job of course goes awry - as they so often do. But, it turns out the job just a part of the larger plan, a plan affecting all of Artemis. So, as she sees it, in order to save her city, she pull together the standard motley crew of misfits, including her dad (who I really liked), her ex-boyfriend's current boyfriend, a Ukrainian scientist, and others to pull off a near-impossible crime. Set on earth, this would be a fun enough crime novel. Jazz is a good character, smart as all get out, but under-motivated. She's sarcastic and lonely. I didn't always love her sense of humor, especially when she's speaking directly to the reader, it feels...
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The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne

The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne

I admit I love a little art thrown in with my crime. I couldn't pass up this story with its combo of art, fraud, kidnapping, and even murder. I actually enjoyed this one. It took a little while to sort everything out, but it was a fun read. I've got an excerpt to give you a taste. Read an excerpt from The Horse's Arse: The story so far: Daniel Colvin, a junior reporter on the art newspaper Marquette, has uncovered evidence of a dodgy deal between the international art dealer Bernard Orlovsky and the UK’s State Gallery, but just as his revelations are going to press he is knocked off his bike by a hit-and-run driver. Back home from hospital with a leg in plaster, he finds his flat has been raided. DC Yasmin Desai from the Met’s Art & Antiques Squad had warned him Orlovsky was dangerous, but he hadn’t listened… Daniel knew there was something wrong from the light, or the absence...
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Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

There are some classics that I wonder why it has taken me so long to get around to. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith is one of those. It's a dark, psychological thriller that shows anyone can be capable of murder, given the right, or wrong, circumstances. As the blurb states, Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno meet on a train. Guy tells Bruno the story of his problems with his wife, who he wants to divorce but who is putting up obstacles left and right, even though she's pregnant with another man's child. Bruno, meanwhile, tells Guy about his meany dad and suggests they trade murders. Guy declines, he's basically a good guy after all, but he fails to realize that Bruno is an alcoholic psychopath, who, after killing Guy's wife, expects Guy to follow through with his end of the deal. That's where the bulk of the novel, and tension lies. Bruno is manipulative and black-mailing; Guy never knows...
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Double Deck the Halls by Gretchen Archer

I love reading holiday short stories and novellas, sometimes stand-alones and sometimes ones that fit into series that I may or may not have read. I haven't read any of Archer's Davis Way Crime Caper series, but if "Double Deck the Halls" is a good example of her style, I definitely want to give it a try. Granny Dee is the main character in this one, at the casino for the Winter Wonderland Senior Slot Tournament. I loved her. She is tough and funny and has a lot of life stories. The baddie is dressed up like an elf and is holding Bianca, the casino owner's wife, hostage, complete with a bomb strapped around her middle. Granny stumbles into the situation, but takes control. Bianca seems like she might be an interesting character, a bit snobby, but adores her kid and the interactions between her and Granny made me smile. It was laugh-out-loud funny, and I just liked the attitude of the story,...
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