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Fade to Blonde

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  943 ratings  ·  93 reviews
"She wore a pale blue dress with cream piping, a dark blue belt, and a silly little schoolgirlish collar. She had nice straight shoulders. There was nothing wrong between them and her open-toed shoes, so I guess the trouble must have been somewhere behind those blue-gray eyes. They'd be trouble, of course. She looked up and called, 'Is your name, Corson?' " From the first ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Hard Case Crime #2, 220 pages
Published September 7th 2004 by Hard Case Crime
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  943 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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So I’m reading this, and periodically glancing again at the cover, when it hit me...Hard Case Crime is like a bad-ass male counterpart to Harlequin Romances. Now I’ve never read a Harlequin Romance and Fabio still gives me the heebies and jeebies. Therefore, I don’t know if they are the literary equivalent of golden drops of liquid sunshine or if they suck so bad they cause brain hickeys and a loss of IQ. I just don’t know, so let’s leave quality comparisons sitting in the back napping with its ...more
Dan Schwent
Feb 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: cool-covers, hardcase
Ray Corson is a laborer and former boxer who gets mixed up with Rebecca LaFontaine. Rebecca's on the run from a guy that wants to burn her face with lye. Too bad Rebecca's an expert on lye. Or is that lie?

This one has quite a few twists and turns. I didn't see the ending coming even though I knew Rebecca was so full of crap she could barely go farther than five feet from the toilet. Still, a lot of guys would have been taken in like Ray was and it's easy to see his way of thinking. The writing i
Dammit, blondes should definitely not be forced to fade away. Instead, the little vixens filled with honey and curves and dimpled noses should prance around from town to town just for the hell of it. I have no idea why, but I continue to be fascinated by women with honey-colored hair. If I’m being truly honest, though, I don’t discriminate if she’s brunette, or raven-haired, or a redhead, but for whatever reason blondes pack a little extra wallop when I step in the ring.

So, yes, I liked Rebecca
Tim The Enchanter
Posted to The Literary

A Poor Effort - 2 Stars

This is the second in the Hard Case Crime series. Each installment is a throwback to pulp crime fiction and feature bad behavior, cigarettes and at least one woman with loose morals. It is not a series in the traditional sense and books are written by a wide array of authors and are taken from the past and present. The series spoils the reader by featuring a Lawrence Block novel as the first installment and I should not have expected
Apr 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, noir, fiction, hardcase
Former boxer and current odd-jobber Ray Corson is enlisted by damsel in distress, Rebecca LaFontaine, to shake off some unwanted attention. A gentleman by the name of Halliday intends to disfigure Rebecca but not if Corson has anything to do with it.

This novel had to be dripping with solid gold if it was going to be able to top Hardcase's first publication, Grifter's Game. Unfortunately, while Fade To Blonde was an enjoyable read, it really didn't completely measure up.

That being said, Phillips
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Whoever Max Phillips is* (I used to be one of those reviewers who did a lot of research, but that just meant my reviews wound up being regurgitated facts and subconscious plagiarism so now I make like Jack Spader and wait for a review to be dictated to me. By ghosts) he does a damned fine job of writing a vintage piece of noir, set in the seamy margins of the film business sometime in the 1950s, as far as I can tell from internal references. He goes straight for Chandler/Hammett territory and fo ...more
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Apr 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: beat-other
Fade to Blonde is one of the longer pulp/noir novels I've read in the Hard Case Crime line-up strictly because of its somewhat aimless plot. Ray Corson is a likable, compelling ex-boxer, screen writer, handyman for hire with an engaging manner about him. The problem is that he's stuck in a story where the other characters don't measure up. Rebecca LaFontaine as the femme fatale is too clearly a liar and trouble from the start. She hires him to get rid of an obsessed suitor named Lance Halliday. ...more
Brad Lyerla
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This should be regarded as a "hard case" classic. Phillips has mastered all of the cliches. I don't know why I like these sorts of books, but when I am traveling, they can distract me against even the most unpleasant lay over, bumpy air, rude fellow passenger or the like. ...more
Joe Santoro
Jun 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: hard-_case_crime
Pretty by the numbers, as far as the Hard Case Crime series goes... they sure do like to focus on films (especially of the adult variety).

Ray Corson was a pretty good lead, but a bit too smart for the personality/life history he was supposed to have. I did love his Sherlock reference though.

The mystery part was fun, and definitely had an ending I didn't expect, which is always nice.
Dec 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Noir purists
Ray Corson is a former boxer, a wannabe writer (Stephen Crane, Hemmingway, etc.), and current roofer. In other words, he’s a guy in his mid-thirties starting to show a gut, who has knocked around the country a bit too long. Enter a beautiful woman with a big Studebaker convertible, and a job for someone who can still throw a devastating overhand right. Things start to happen, as he inserts himself into Rebecca LaFontaine’s world of drugs, thugs, porn, and lies. But Corson is no fool, and he can ...more
Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Ray is my kind of protagonist. He's observant even when he seems not to be and he's more intelligent than he lets on but there's a sensitive side too. He's a would-be writer or screen writer if he could get a break. His take on other writers was pretty good. I recall one on Tolstoy: the man never crossed out a sentence in his whole life. This novel had some nice twists and interesting characters (Gangster Scarpa could have had another scene for me). And the femme fatale Rebecca, man that's a pie ...more
Mr. Matt
Oct 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: pulp-fiction, 2013
I really wasn't sure about Fade to Blonde as I read the book. The story follows a complex web surrounding (surprise, surprise!) a drop dead gorgeous blonde. She is wrapped up in a tangle involving gangsters, drugs, stag movies, and more.

To be frank, I probably wouldn't have finished it if I hadn't been on an airplane with nothing other to read. The story had a few too many twists in it and also jumped around. For large chunks of the story I found myself wondering why the protagonist was doing th
This book, although written in the modern era, is terrific reading because Phillips has captured the mood and spirit of the fifties-era pulp and he captures it better than anyone else in modern times. If you did not know better, you would think this was written fifty years ago. Maybe, Phillips is just an old soul or maybe he just succeeded at what he set out to do here.

Who is Max Phillips? He is the cofounder of Hard Case Crime along with Charles Ardai. He has also written under the pen name For
Bill Telfer
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is only the secomd book published by the Hard Case Crime imprint -- and it was an original for them which came out in 2004. I bought it back then but only got around to reading it now. I couldn't put it down. Great stuff in the pulp tradition. Pure, enjoyable "hard-boiled" fiction. ...more
Jim N
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fade to Blonde is razor sharp noir, a crisply-written homage to the hardboiled fiction of the '40s and '50s that reads like a lost noir film you really want to see. The protagonist, veteran and former boxer Ray Corson, is a streetwise tough guy in need of work. He's hired by Rebecca, an attractive, manipulative blonde in need of help and the plot takes off from there. Corson's a great character: he's big and fearless but he's also smart and observant. However, he's not so smart that he doesn't s ...more
Timothy Mayer

Hard Case Crime shows it can deliver as a book publisher. With novels such as Money Shot, I've become a big fan of the company It's always good to know there are Still a few publishers out there who can deliver the goods.
Fade to Blond is written from the perspective of Ray Corson, a WWII vet and prize fighter. It's the 1950'S in Los Angeles and he's trying to make a living in the building trades. One day a mysterious blond woman comes up to him on a job site wanting to hire Corson to keep a form
Sep 03, 2016 rated it liked it
The main premise of this is that if a woman is pretty enough, she can act like a sociopath and still have men falling all over her and risking their lives for her. Rebecca was awful. I mean, I know she was supposed to be, but I just got sick of the main character being wrapped around her little finger even thought she is obviously bad news and is using him. This frustrated me. I found the main character hard to relate to for that reason. But the book was fast paced and kept me turning pages, eve ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Three (and a half) stars with a bit of reservation...

I've got a shelf full of these Hard Case Crime books, and as I go through more and more, the characters and the situations tend to blend far more than I'd like. Big and Quiet But Wisecracking Guy gets hired by a Femme Fatale for a Task. BQWG falls for FF, Task clearly not what he first thought, but clouded by love/lust, he still goes through with it, until the Twist.

I guess I'm not really spoiling much by saying this book follows that formula
Benjamin Thomas
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-crime
In 2004, the Hard Case Crime imprint was begun, cofounded by authors Charles Ardai and Max Phillips. While the publishers reprinted many of the hard boiled crime novels of the 30’a 40’s and 50’s, they also publish newly minted stories. Max Phillips wrote this second novel and one can easily imagine him pecking away on an old typewriter, trying for every cliché in the proverbial book as he worked to establish the imprint and everything it stands for.

A beautiful femme fatal hires out-of-work Holly
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When selecting any of the Hard Case Crime series, you pretty much know what to expect. And if you don't, then the blurb, and the fantastic artwork provide plenty of clues. 'Fade to Blonde' is no exception: a riveting, page turner which, like its main protagonist Ray Corson, pulls no punches. The prose is both skillful and succinct, with witty dialog to match. There's plenty of memorable characters and enough twists to hold your interest. As Corson says: "I only buy books by people I wish I wrote ...more
One of Hard Case Crime's original works, this is a rather nifty homage to the hardboiled works of the Forties and Fifties. Set in Hollywood, Ray Corson wants to be a screenwriter but like many he has to find other work to pay the bills. Enter Rebecca LaFontaine who is looking for a hired hand. Only 220 pages, but plenty of plot, a self aware hero, and just enough hardboiled dialogue made this a quick enjoyable read. ...more
Ken Schloman
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
This Shamus Award winner is the second novel in the Hard Case Crime portfolio. While written in 2004, the novel captures the tone and feeling of crime novels written in the 1940's, 1950's and 60's. The characters are tough with snappy dialogue. You can see the influences of Chandler, McDonald, and even Hammett. As I read the novel I could visualize it as a Bogart and Bacall noir movie. It is a great homage to the genre. ...more
Nov 12, 2007 rated it liked it
This 2004 novel is packaged as if it were a reprint of a noir/crime novel from the 50s. A reasonably decent read it is, but that it isn't. The protagonist is more of a noble superhero type than an ignoble anti-hero, and the heroine comes off more as a confused little girl in a woman's body than a seductive temptress. ...more
David G
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
sometimes all I need is a good hard case crime...tough guys, hard dolls
this one has a hollywood,porn thing going.
good escape.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: noir-pulp
This was the typical noir scenario. Good girl gone bad meets a guy whose rough around the edges but has a heart of gold. It was a pleasant surprise that it had a happy-ish ending.
Jan 17, 2021 rated it liked it
This book hit all the tropes of the genre right on the nose. It had the beautiful (but not too beautiful) damsel in distress; the down-on-his-luck, everyman tough guy that’s prone to violence and also willing to take almost any oddjob that comes his way; a good slew of gangsters representing a healthy cross-section of age, motivation, and intimidation; and a supporting cast of witty, fast-talking, affable characters to push along the main plot. The locales were also spot on: from a rent-by-the-d ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, pulp-fiction
Originally published in 2004, Fade to Blonde is a Hard Case Crime original by Max Phillips, and it sings. The book is a ride, with a femme fatale for the ages, a hard-necked protagonist who could stand side by side with other genre greats, and enough tough guy dialogue to fill a dictionary.

Phillips puts everything together in beautiful fashion. There's a little bit of everything in here, and he does a great job of pulling out a pretty grand ending to a winding plot through seedy period sets. Ray
Dec 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I'll begin by writing that I love Hard Case Crime as a publisher. They just have terrific design and editorial sensibilities. That written, this is not their best book. It doesn't really work that that the hero is smarter than everyone else, works harder than everyone else, and has a heart of gold is also broke and an idiot. Other writers make this work by having the hero be a hard drinker or addicted to gambling or always going for the 2 birds in the bush or he can't resist a woman he's laid. I ...more
Rubin Carpenter
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic read !
classic noir at it's best !
A former boxer who now does odd jobs
takes a job from a woman who claims she needs protection from a 3rd rate mobster
it quickly spirals into a dangerous game
where nobody comes out unscathed.
Neil Jenkins
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love these crime thrillers (mainly based in 1960s America where PC was a little different) from the hard case crime publishers. This tale is of a man who is hired as a hit man by a troublesome lady with a great crime twist at the end. These are not expensive, quick to read and lots of fun
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Max Phillips has received an Academy of American Poets Prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and his stories have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the Partisan Review, and the Village Voice, among other publications.

Forrest Devoe Jr. is the pen name of Max Phillips. In addition to cofounding the pulp revival imprint Hard Case Crime, he has authored one of its debut titl

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