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Branded Woman (Hard Case Crime) [Mass Market Paperback]

5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Most helpful customer reviews
By Andrew Salmon TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The writing team that makes up Wade Miller have all but faded from the minds of most modern mytery readers. This sad state of affairs is changed thanks to Hard Case Crime who have re-issued one of the Miller duo's best works in an attractive new edition featuring a new cover done in the old, hardboiled style of yesteryear.
Branded Woman is as off-beat a hardboiled tale as you're going to find. The lead characeter, Cay, is one woman you want on your side. She is tough, smart and deadly. The novel itself twists and turns and you're never quite sure how Cay's revenge against the villain (who branded her on the forehead)will turn out. The writing is tense and moves well. The characters and dialogue are sharp and defined.
If you love hardboiled mystery, you'll be hardpressed to find it done any better than in Branded Woman. And the rest of the Hard Case Crime line for that matter. Just one year in business and they've snagged 2 Edgar nominations and 1 win!! Plus a couple of Shamus Award nominations as well. Branded Woman is a lost classic thankfully found. Here's hoping it finds the new audience it deserves.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific unearthing of an underappreciated author July 18 2005
By Craig Clarke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Author Wade Miller is likely best known (if he is known at all) as the writer of the novel that Orson Welles used as the source of his late-career masterpiece, Touch of Evil. However, this is only likely once you know that "Wade Miller" was a pseudonym used by Robert Wade and William Miller, who also used other pen names throughout their writing career.

One of those was "Whit Masterson," who is the "personality" credited with that source novel, originally called Badge of Evil. Of course, Welles took considerable license with the characters, switching the identities of a few, as well as locations, and beefing up the role of Hank Quinlan (which he played himself).

Confused yet? I was. (Other similar sounding pseudonyms the pair used were "Will Daemer" and "Dale Wilmer" -- it seems the duo had a wry sense of humor.) What is important now, though, is that the two wrote Branded Woman, a new release from Hard Case Crime.

Cay Morgan was a jewel smuggler, the rare woman in what is considered a man's profession. She was entirely content to smuggle and let smuggle, but The Trader had other ideas; Cay needed to be taught a lesson and, although she had thought there was nothing worse than death, she soon found out otherwise. Half a decade later, she is in Mazatlán, on the trail of a man named Valdes, her only link to The Trader and her only opportunity for revenge.

Branded Woman features one of the more fascinating characters in crime literature in Cay Morgan. She is smart and sexy, seductive and skilled. If she lets her emotions rule her sometimes to her detriment ... well, that just shows that she has remained human, unlike the usual femmes fatales who only seem out for a buck -- or a stabbed or broken heart. Despite all she has been through, she is still open to experiencing hope, and she can still love. That she doesn't have much luck in that arena is simply par for the course. (They wouldn't call the publisher Hard Case Crime if they were interested in printing books about people finding happiness.)

Branded Woman contains a complex chain of events leading up to an astonishing conclusion. Wade and Miller are expert plotters and their situations feel realistic while being entirely out of the ordinary. Having Cay seem like a real woman only ups the ante and makes this novel more impressive.

What I like best about the Hard Case Crime books is how they make me want to seek out authors I've never heard of before (Two for the Money made me an instant Max Allan Collins fan). So, now that I know there are more names to look for, Wade Miller (or Whit Masterson, or whatever the duo call themselves on any given book) is/are getting added to that list.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No cardboard cutouts - real characters and real plot twists Aug. 16 2006
By D. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Tough, jaded, and smart, Cay Morgan is like any other jewel smugger except for one thing: she's a female. And a remarkably attractive female at that. In fact, her only physical flaw is a brand on her forehead, which left a permanent scar in the shape of the letter T. A brand inflicted as a permanent warning by "The Trader," a criminal kingpin standing at the top of the smuggling pyramid.

Five years later, Morgan is determined to exact vengeance for the painful imprint. She is in Mazatlan, shadowing a man called Valdes, a known associate of the Trader. A private detective has accompanied her, ostensibly to watch her back and perform some legwork while she hunts for her nemesis. Things go bad, though, when Valdes turns up dead, cutting off her last link to the Trader. And then things go from bad to worse when she stumbles across the body of her private detective.

Stunning plot twists and an utterly unpredictable conclusion are hallmarks of Branded Woman. Further, Morgan is fleshed out as a full-fledged person, not a cardboard cutout the way that many female protagonists are portrayed. All in all, while it's not the finest in the Hard Case Series ("Touch of Death" and "Bust" are two I consider superior), it's certainly high quality work that's helping to resurrect the Pulp genre.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts on Wade Miller's "Branded Woman" July 21 2005
By Paul Mercurio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Wade Miller's BRANDED WOMAN is a fine pulp classic reprinted from the '50's, a tale that unfolds like a black and white film noir of old. Cay Morgan,tough, beautiful, and an international jewel smuggler, runs afoul of a mysterious rival known only as the Trader. As punishment for her transgressions she is kidnapped and scarred, "branded" for life, a life that becomes an obsessive journey for revenge. In the town of Mazatlan, Mexico, Cay discovers a deal going down that involves her sworn enemy, but she will have to work her way through a wall of murder and deceit before she has any chance of settling the score. Miller's attention to detail is clean and precise; his plotting intricate and satisfying. More admirable is his ability to get inside the character of a woman, and fashion a twist on the femme fatale way before it became fashionable in fiction. BRANDED WOMAN rates as a fine additon to the Hard Case Crime series, and the cover is to die for.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Revenge Story; Cay Morgan is a Wonderful Character April 4 2014
By Dave Wilde - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There never was a Wade Miller. The name is a pseudonym used by an amalgamation of two writers, Robert Wade and H Bill Miller. Together they wrote more than thirty novels under the names Whit Masterson and wade Miller. This amalgam of two writers is not to be confused with the Wade Miller who played for the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox.

In 1952, the writing duo published Branded Woman. It is a remarkable work and fairly engrossing. The one thing that does stand out about it is the main character is a woman, Morgan Cay. The basic plot is found on the back cover which explains that the beautiful Cay Morgan can hold her own in the world of international jewel smuggling. She was warned to stay away from the Trader's business. When she doesn't heed the warning, the Trader abducts her and scars her for life with a "T" emblazoned on her forehead so that she will never forget him. Five years later, Morgan finally has a lead on where the Trader is and is out for her revenge. She saw a photograph in a newspaper of a man associated with the Trader and she heads to Mazatlan where one of the biggest jewelry deals in history is going down.

"Just past thirty, she grew vainer every year about her ability to make men perspire." "Despite the sultry poise of her figure, men noticed her hair first. It was technically blonde, but silver rather than gold, a hue once called platinum but which Cay herself fondly termed pearl blonde." It is further explained that: "She did not look like a woman planning murder; no one seeing her now would suppose that she could hate so long and hard."

The story is jampacked with action from the very moment Cay touches down in Mazatlan to the very end of the book. There are murders, knifings, drownings, catfights between two ferocious women, chases down deserted alleys, guns, romance, and more. All the action takes place in and around Mazatlan and this adds a nice atmosphere to the work. Cay is just about the most dangerous woman you could imagine, but the question is has she met her match in the Trader. After spending five long years seeking him out, what is she really going to do when she finds him and will it be worth it?

I recommend this book. It was a lot of fun to read.

If this were made into a movie today, I could see either Scarlet Johansen or Uma Thurman playing the role of Cay.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good read Dec 28 2013
By Ken - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Took a few chapters to get rolling, but when it did it held my interest throughout. Not a great novel, but definitely a good one IMO. Worth the investment, especially considering the price. Surprise ending and antagonist. Maybe too much so.
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