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Publisher's Summary

A careful, methodical young data analyst for a California insurance company, John Walker knows when people will marry, at what age they will most likely have children, and when they will die. All signs point to a long successful career---until Max Stillman, a gruff security consultant, appears without warning at the office. It seems a colleague with whom Walker once had an affair has disappeared after paying a very large death benefit to an impostor. Stillman wants to find and convict her; Walker is convinced the woman is innocent. Now Walker teams up with Stillman on an urgent north-by-northeast race---relentlessly leading to a pay-off that just might shock the life out of him.
©2008 Thomas Perry (P)2009 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Compelling...A labyrinthine tale of murder [and] conspiracy." ( People)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Julie
  • Apple Valley, MN, United States
  • 08-11-09

My favorite book from one of my favorite authors.

Death Benefits is a well crafted, suspensful mystery. The story brings us from California, to Florida to New England. It starts with an ambitious,young business woman out to make a sale. She seems as real a person so me, as one of my collegues. (Okay maybe a little more aggressive) But I had a real sense of who she was and even liked her.

Then she is gone. Next we meet two very interesting men who are characters, interesting, funny and real.

Thomas Perry is a master of stringing details around the story to hook up in and keep us hanging on. Of course, he brings us to a surprise ending.

I love this book.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Unexpected joyride

Thomas Perry has an hysterically droll sense of humor that I did not find in either the Butcher Boy series or in Metzger's Dog (which I didn't find at all funny). However, Perry's fraud investigator in Death Benefits is so droll and understatedly outrageous, I found myself bursting into laughter in the most quotidian situations, and the actuary, John Walker, is his perfect straight man. The narrator, Michael Kramer, does an absolutely perfect job.On more than one occasion I had to stop driving because my eyes were watering so freely.
That said, I thought the final chase and conclusion were a little over the top and a little bit of a let down. Funny how another reviewer thought this book lacked Perry's "usual sense of humor" but loved the ending. Go figure.
This is one of the few books I've listened to twice, because I just loved the ride, and it was just as enjoyable on the second go-round.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Perry has me on a roll!

I was not a fan of Perry, though I had read and enjoyed 2 or 3 of his Butcher Boy novels. In my constant search for great audio experiences, I ran across a thoughtful review from Stephen King. He said there were less than a handful of suspence writers who created believable characters and Perry is is one of them.

Death Benefits certainly fits that description. It is a fast paced, fun, sexy ride. I found myself emotionally attached to the characters, so much so the story became secondary. That is a good thing, because I found the conclusion unbeleivable. Nevertheless I give it 5 stars overall based on how riveted I was to the book.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Ted
  • Lancaster, PA, United States
  • 05-25-14

Improbable As A Pearl In You Oyster Soup…

But… It could happen, right? And if it did, DELIGHTFUL!

Well, that's the way this thing goes. It's a pearl… perfectly formed… Dully sparkling. And I'm delighted at the improbability of this story and its rich thick tastiness.. The three lead characters in this ensemble are what you expect from Thomas Perry… WUNNERFUL! Notice how I keep using caps? Well, that's the way I feel now that I've just finished Death Benefits by the pool down here in balmy South Carolina… vacationland USA. It's a beach/pool/summer biking read and Michael Kramer reads it all masterfully.

Get it, love it. Another Perry wonder-story. I'm off to download another Perry before the sun goes behind a cloud. Need to go pearl diving again.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • steven
  • phoenix, AZ, United States
  • 09-10-09

good suspense

generally interesting take on high level insurance fraud, i thought one of the main characters was constantly being built up as an obvious insider as in the guy doing the inside job (spoiler so i wont say) i like these type of longer books

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Not Mr. Perry's finest hour, but a terrific ending

Mr. Perry has spoiled me. I now expect every book of his to be funny and thrilling, both of these to wonderful extremes. This book is not his best. Just the fact that he is trying to make the lives of two insurance investigators interesting shows you how high he has set the bar for himself. John Walker, who is, I guess, the protagonist, is an insurance company desk jockey. He is just not all that interesting. Max Stillman, a free-lance insurance "security consultant" (read: fraud investigator) is more quirky. The female character, "Serena," is simply improbable. Our heroes go out to investigate a $12 million insurance fraud, and madness ensues. The book lacks Mr. Perry's usual sense of humor, and the suspense doesn't work until the last five or six chapters, which then kick up the pace to frantic. The conclusion is a little confusing, but the chase is a lot of fun, particularly at the point where the three of them hide in a church belfry, with the entire town of Coulter underneath them. The plot sags quite a bit in the middle. I missed Mr. Perry's unique sense of humor. If I were you I would try any of the Butcher's Boy novels, and then read Metzger's Dog, which is truly masterful. I think it was on some "100 Best" list, and it would be even higher on my list, if I had one. Mr. Kramer's narration is, as usual, great, but he just doesn't have enough great stuff to narrate here.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Chasing rather than chased

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, good Perry. He usually has his principal characters being chased around the country using ingenious skip technology, but this time, the principals are chasing the bad guys with some of the same smarts. Good change of pace. Kramer is just the right reader for Perry.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Bill
  • Mission Viejo, CA, United States
  • 08-16-09

Fun book

Great reader, interesting characters, and a suspenseful plot. Lots of fun and an unexpected pleasure. Give it a try.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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The Plot Sags And Drags.....

This novel started well. It had my attention but started to lose my interest after 5 or 6 hours... it was dragging. The plot picked back up for a while and then it lost me. As one reviewer said, "the suspense doesn't work until the last five or six chapters" by that time I didn't care. Honestly, I never had a sense of real suspense and the conclusion was confusing.

If you want a novel where the paying of a very large death benefit (12 million) to an impostor is the central plot, where there is an interesting chase scene and where the three main characters hide in a church's belfry with the entire town in the church underneath them, then this one might be for you. This one was not for me.

The narrator was okay.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • JKO
  • Harlingen, TX United States
  • 03-31-16

Pretty good, but a bit long

Would you try another book from Thomas Perry and/or Michael Kramer?

I probably would.

If you’ve listened to books by Thomas Perry before, how does this one compare?

There was more boring minutiae in this book than others. The last hour was pretty good but I think he could use a ruthless editor who might tell him to cut, cut, cut.

Have you listened to any of Michael Kramer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

As good as others.

Did Death Benefits inspire you to do anything?


1 of 1 people found this review helpful