Random House, Jan 2001, 24.95, 382 pp.
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.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner