Saturday Film Noir: Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity (1944) is an American film noir, directed by Billy Wilder. It starred Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson and was based on James M. Cain’s 1935 novella of the same title, adapted for film by Wilder and Raymond Chandler.  The story was based on a 1927 crime perpetrated by a married Queens woman and her lover. Ruth Snyder persuaded her boyfriend, Judd Gray, to kill her husband Albert after having her spouse take out a big insurance policy—with a double-indemnity clause. The murderers were quickly identified and arrested. The term double indemnity refers to a clause in certain life insurance policies where the insuring company agrees to pay twice the standard amount in cases of accidental death.

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Overkill by Vanda Symon

OverkillOverkill (2007)

Vanda Symon

Penguin Books. New Zealand.

336 pages.

ISBN: 978-0-14-300665-7

“The day it was ordained that Gabriella Knowes would die there was no harbingers, omens or owl’s calls. No tolling of bells. With the unquestioning courtesy of the well brought up, she invited death in.”

The novel opens with a Prologue in which we find out how an unsuspecting young mother invites her killer into her house and she is forced to write a suicide note to protect her child. It is set in a small town, Mataura, located in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand.

In the first chapter the sole-charge police woman at Maturana station Sam(antha) Shephard is called to investigate the missing of Mrs. Gabriella Knowes. Sam commands the official search and when the corpse or the young mother is found on the banks of the Maturana river it seems obvious that she has committed suicide because of the note left behind. However a forged script will soon lead into a murder inquire and within hours a collection of CIB detectives and officers from Invercargill and even Dunedin converted the Mataura Elderly Citizens Centre into an official command centre. Soon Sam finds herself on the list of suspects, for two years she has lived together with Gaby’s husband and Sam is not only separated from the case but she is also suspended from all her functions. Sam will not accept this situation and will continue her investigations to find out who ordered that murder and to clear her name.

Overkill is Vanda Symon’s debut novel and Sam Shephard is quite an engaging and attractive character. Except for the Prologue the novel is written in the first person from Sam perspective. The rural setting is very well described and the book is written in a smooth style which makes it a page-turner. I did very much enjoy this book and I’m keen to read the next books on Sam Shephard series.

Vanda Symon (1969) is a crime writer and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the Chair of tglobalhe Otago Southland Branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. Symon’s first novel, Overkill, was published in March 2007 in New Zealand by Penguin Books. It introduces series heroine Sam Shephard. Symon followed with the publication of her second novel The Ringmaster in August 2008. Symon’s third novel featuring detective Sam Shephard, Containment was released in December 2009. She is currently working on her fourth in the series.



Penguin Book (NZ)


Mysteries in Paradise

Reactions to Reading

Crime Watch

Vanda Symon

Official website

Vanda’s blog


Interview with Vanda Symon

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