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Fifty-to-One (Hard Case Crime, Bk. 50) Mass Market Paperback

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Dorchester Publishing Co.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0843959681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843959680
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 3 x 16.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,216,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The authour is to be credited for creating a slate of entertaining characters who bluff, lie, cheat, steal, seduce, strong-arm and rough-house their way through this book, but don't for a minute believe it has a "jaw-dropping" surprise ending. I am a reader of modest intellect and the ending was quite predictable. At first I was impressed with the crisp, sardonic dialogue, but after 10 or so chapters, incessant bickering about "Where's the money?" or "Get me my money or else" or "Who stole the money" begins to wear thin. The narrow focus of this genre, the stylistic parameters of the "noir" world, is both its' strength and eventual weakness. You see no further than the next scam.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
IF you ever stared at the lurid covers of pulp fiction novels from the 40s on, this is a great way to get reacquanted. Being the 51st novel by the publisher, get the title, it borrows the chapters from the titles of previously published books. Not much bodice ripping here but plenty of peaks and shaddy characters. I always used to think these novels weren't well written. Boy was I wrong! It's one of those tales you don't want to put down until the heroine wins in the end; sort of. Enjoy!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 20 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Pure Pulp And Proud Of It! Nov. 15 2008
By Mel Odom - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Series editor Charles Ardai carved himself a nice piece of real estate by deciding to write Hard Case Crime's fiftieth book. On the outside looking in, a lot of people might think this move was merely an ego trip.

But that will change the instant they start turning pages in FIFTY-TO-ONE.

Ardai expertly hooks readers with the story of a small-town girl, Tricia, who comes to New York in the 1950s with stars in her eyes. Unexpectedly left to her own devices by her older sister, Tricia promptly gets swindled by a street con artist. Desperate, she tries to make the best of things and ends up getting hired on as a dance at a mob-run night club. Then she discovers that the guy that conned her is actually a small press publisher of crime and porn fiction who's currently down on his luck.

Pressuring Charles Borden, Tricia finds herself drawn into the crime fiction trade by penning a best-selling "nonfiction" tell-all book about the night club. She describes a robbery that takes place in the club, giving away details that enable an actual robbery to take place after the book comes out. (This attention to detail was one of the things that affected the publishing world several times as writers strove for reality.)

Admittedly, some of the plot twists Ardai takes are self-serving, but they're fun, and they allow him to stay on top of a tightly spun, multi-faceted plot that ultimately satisfies. Tricia, named Trixie at the night club, has the best and worst runs of luck, but they never fail to keep readers turning pages.

FIFTY-TO-ONE is simply the best kind of potboiler. Nothing, no character or situation, remains static for long. As in any good noir tale, loyalties and perspectives change with the wind. For the most part, it is Tricia against the world as she struggles to sort out the mystery of who truly stole the mobster's money and bloody secrets.

The dialogue is shot full of snappy one-liners that would have been at home on Old Time Radio. Ardai hits the lingo on the head, and he throws scenes out at his readers that are at once visceral and real. As I read the book, the movie played in my head. I forgot that the interface was words on a page and simply followed the story through the blindingly quick twists and turns.

Ardai also has a lot of fun sticking in period references to writing and writers. Mickey Spillane (thinly cloaked) puts in an appearance that is at once slapstick. Long-time mystery writers Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake also have small roles that lend to a lot of the history of the paperback market at that time as well as some great humor.

Adopting an added challenge, Ardai uses a title from each of the line's published books as a chapter heading. As a writer myself, I was intrigued by Ardai's choices to pull the chapters into line with the book titles. Plotting is tricky, especially when you're trying to pull off a tightly-knit novel. Some of those chapters work better than others, but they all work.

Fans of the Hard Case Crime books are in for a treat with this one, but it's a great place for readers new to this kind of fiction to jump on for a taste. Ardai also includes color pages of the line's first fifty books. The art on all of the novels is pulpy and sexy. I grew up on this stuff when it was published by Gold Medal, and a cover with a half-dressed woman holding a gun still lures me into picking up the book.

Pick a weekend, kick off your shoes, and sit back for a great read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A self-referential romp back in time Dec 23 2008
By Craig Clarke - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"[This game is] called 'Fifty-to-One'. Those are the odds, you see."
"Of winning?"
"Of surviving."

Charley Borden is a publisher, editor, and self-proclaimed rip-off artist. The best-selling book of his publishing line, Hard Case Crime Books, is blatant Mickey Spillane pilferage -- Eye the Jury by Nicky Malone ("a Mac Hatchet mystery") -- and he thrives on bad publicity because it sells books.

But Charley's a likeable sort, so when he asks showgirl Tricia "Trixie" Heverstadt -- who dances in a famous gangster's nightclub but really wants to write for The New Yorker -- to write a true-crime work on her boss's exploits, she is glad to oblige for a penny a word. Only the story she tells -- of the theft of the gangster's millions -- is completely made up.

Or so she thinks. The gangster disagrees; the details of the events depicted in Tricia's novel happened to him exactly the way she wrote them -- down to the combination of the vault -- and he wants to know who the thief was. The police would also like to know the identity of the book's author (published as "Anonymous" to create mystery and sell more books, of course) and no one is going to let up until they get what they want.

Fifty-to-One is the 50th book in the Hard Case Crime line (the real one), founded in 2004 by Charles Ardai and Max Phillips. In recognition of this milestone, Ardai felt a very special sort of book was called for, and he wrote it himself (though Phillips contributed a chapter).

And Ardai really set himself a challenge: to tell a riveting story in 50 chapters, each named after the Hard Case Crime books published up to that point, in chronological order. Chapter 1 is "Grifter's Game," chapter 2 is "Fade to Blonde," etc. (Observant readers will also find references to books 51-55.) And Ardai's story tries its damnedest to deliver what the chapter titles promise.

Along for the ride are a couple of writers named Larry and Don (maybe you've heard of them?), ever-ready with a quip or a caper. Their influence is felt in how Ardai deftly commingles suspense and humor in what is undoubtedly the funniest book Hard Case Crime has published to date. (The humor carries you through a few too many convenient coincidences.) Ardai makes fun of the publishing business, the crime genre, and best of all, he makes fun of himself!

Fifty-to-One is well paced, and it has that pulp-style written-in-a-hurry feel that adds to its sense of immediacy. That said, it also feels a little too long at 330 pages. But it's hard to be too critical of a book that is so obviously a labor of love. Ardai didn't have to write a special book to commemorate Hard Case Crime's 50th "anniversary," so the fact that he wanted to is all the more endearing.

Ardai's novel isn't meant to be a future classic -- it's just a fun, self-referential romp purely intended to offer a few hours' diversion along with its plethora of cross-merchandising (an 8-page gallery of all 50 covers is included in place of the usual club advertisement). The great thing is, fans will see these as bonuses, which just goes to show how attuned to his readers Ardai is. He has produced a novel that attempts many things and succeeds at more of them than should have been possible. Fifty-to-One is a book that is not only a solid example of the comic crime novel, but also goes to show what a really good writer can come up with when he truly challenges himself.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
One of the weakest in the series April 3 2010
By D. Webb - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Too cute and gimicky. Characters are more parodies than real people. I am a fan of the Hard Case series but not enough of a fan to give this weak entry a pass.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Forty-nine books in the making Dec 6 2008
By mrliteral - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For those fans of Hard Case Crime, the series of pulpy mysteries, either from the 1950s or simulating that period, Fifty-to-One is a thank you note by the publisher Charles Ardai, in the form of the series' fiftieth novel. Using the titles of all fifty Hard Case Crime books as chapter headings, Ardai has constructed a comic thriller filled with inside jokes.

The plot follows Tricia Heverstadt, a naïve (but beautiful, of course) 18 year old from South Dakota who has just arrived in 1958 New York City, hoping to live with her sister Coral and get a decent job. Coral, however, is unwilling to take Tricia in, and within moments, Tricia is also conned out of her small amount of money. Fortunately, she is able to get a semi-legitimate modeling job and a place to live; furthermore, she has found the man who scammed her: Charley Borden, who's actually a small-time publisher of cheap crime novels. The name of the publishing house: Hard Case Crimes.

Tricia is commissioned by Borden to write a true crime story, but lacking sources, she makes one up: the anonymously written memoir of a minor hood who worked for mobster Sal Nicolazzo and ripped him off for $3,000,000. The book is a hit, but unfortunately, it's truer than expected. Sal has actually been ripped off, and for the exact amount (and using the exact method) that Tricia described. Now she and Charley are both in trouble with Nicolazzo and the law, neither of whom are likely to believe Tricia's version of the events. This leads to blackmail, murder and other assorted crimes.

I think most readers will be able to figure out the actual thieves long before they're actually revealed, but the fun is less with the destination than the journey. Constructing a novel with just fifty chapter headings as a starting point can be rough, but Ardai does the job well. Although I think anyone could enjoy the book, this is - as stated before - a thank you note to Hard Case Crime's readers, who not only get a nice caper novel, but also a special insert with the covers of all fifty books (and the covers are a treat; in an era when most book covers are pretty boring, Hard Case Crime brings back the better covers of yesteryear). It's not a perfect book, but it's still a very good one.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful book, bad Kindle formatting Dec 16 2008
By Sean May - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Charles Ardai's Fifty-To-One is a really great exercise in writing. How the author was able to connect all of the previous fifty Hard Case Crime novels' titles into a coherent story is still beyond me, even as a writer myself.

If you've read and enjoyed any Hard Case Crime books as of yet, you'll probably enjoy Fifty-to-One, even though it's considerably lighter in tone than most of the other Hard Case books I've read.

But, I want to bring something to Amazon and Hard Case's attention, and it's not a huge deal, but it's something that really bothered me quite a few times throughout the book. The formatting in this book is pretty awful, almost like it was converted from a PDF instead of typeset specifically for the Kindle. Many lines have weird carriage returns where a word will inch up into the previous line, other words have very large spacing around them. In a couple of places, toward the end, entire words were cut off from the ends of lines, leaving me a bit confused. The text itself also isn't as sharp as the other Kindle books I've read. I'm not exactly sure what caused this, but it's maybe something Amazon and Hard Case should look into before releasing more books on the Kindle (which they should keep much as I love the covers, I also love the ability to carry around dozens of these pulp classics with me at all times).

All in all, it's a great book with tons of nods to previous (and future) Hard Case Crime books as well as Hard Case Authors (watch for cameos by Mickey Spillane, Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake). I recommend it for anyone who wants to go on a good pulpy ride.

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