Bet Your Life by Richard Dooling

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A terminally ill man sells his life insurance policy for cheap to an investor who will collect the full amount when the sick man dies.But is the sick man really sick? Does he even exist? In the age of AIDS and no-holds-barred capitalism, the business of betting on how much longer sick people will live is thriving. Is this new market in which life insurance policies are bought and sold a legitimate enterprise, or is it an open invitation to fraud and murder?

Carver Hartnett, Miranda Pryor, and Leonard Stillmach all work for Reliable Allied Trust, in Omaha, where they investigate insurance fraud. Carver -- the narrator of this edgy and surprising novel -- is frustrated. His company would rather raise premiums than prosecute insurance criminals. Miranda, his seductive coworker, leads him on and then puts him off -- she seems to have something monstrous to hide. When their friend, crazy Lenny, a computer gamer and an expert with drug-and-alcohol cocktails, dies in the middle of playing Delta-Strike online, a strange and disturbing narrative unfolds around a possible murder and massive insurance fraud. Carver is drawn deeper into various hearts of darkness, and in his efforts to discover the truth behind his friend's death, he ends up betting his own life.

Filled with memorable characterizations -- Carver's boss, the shrewd Old Man Norton; Dagmar Helveg, Norton's fascist assistant; regional investigator Charlie Becker, a plain-talking, commonsense cop -- Bet Your Life conducts a stealthy philosophical investigation of its own, in which our hero ends up investigating the mysteries of his soul.


About Richard Dooling

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Richard Dooling is a writer and a lawyer.   His second novel, White Man's Grave, was finalist for the National Book Award in fiction. He is also the author of Critical Care and Blue Streak, and he is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and the National Law Journal. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with his wife and children.
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 356 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Bet Your Life

Kirkus Reviews

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Alas, as they uncover bunk in claim after claim, they sense a shift in corporate strategy as company overlords elect to pay out bogus claims and recoup costs through spiraling premiums rather than through elaborate investigations and the courts.

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The Guardian

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Bet Your Life by Richard Dooling 352pp, Secker, £10 "The name Omaha may sound like a calf bawling for its mother, but it's not a cattle or corn derivative."

Feb 01 2003 | Read Full Review of Bet Your Life

Publishers Weekly

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The reader learns a great deal about insurance scams and the cynicism pervading the industry, and the Omaha setting is piquant for its contrast with the high-living, trendy insurance investigators who are the book's stars, but the book's virtues end there.

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Entertainment Weekly

Do this: Go to a bookstore, turn to page 262 of Dooling's novel, and read his description of what sounds like a perfectly legal, devilish, and hilarious insurance scam anyone could pull off.

Jan 03 2003 | Read Full Review of Bet Your Life

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