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Fifty-to-One (Hard Case Crime #50)
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Fifty-to-One (Hard Case Crime #050)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  393 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews

Okay, not really. But what if, instead of having been founded 50 books ago, Hard Case Crime had been founded 50 years ago, by a rascal out to make a quick buck off the popularity of pulp fiction? Such a fellow might make a few enemies – especially after publishing a supposed non-fiction account of a heist at a Mob-run nightclub, act
Mass Market Paperback, 333 pages
Published December 1st 2008 by Dorchester Publishing Co. (first published November 25th 2008)
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Dan Schwent
Tricia Heverstadt comes to the Big Apple all the way from South Dakota with very little money to make it big, just like her sister Coral. When she gets there, Coral turns her out and Tricia gets bilked out of all her money. Out of desperation, she takes two jobs, one as a dancer at a nightclub owned by a gangster, and another working for Hard Case Crime Books. She writes a crime novel but a lot of people seem to think it's a true story because the plot mirrors a heist that was pulled on Uncle Ni ...more
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
By far the best of the Hard Case originals since the series kicked off several years ago with Fade to Blonde. This is cheeky, self-referential fun, celebrating both the disposable paperback culture to which HCC is a living tribute and the imprint's own history (exaggerated here to fifty years; in reality it's five). You can tell Ardai had a good time constructing this book: as opposed to some of its more recent original titles (i.e. The Max), the attitude is put in service of the imagination. He ...more
Nov 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Well let me start by saying this is a gimmick book--the 50th title published by Hard Case Crime--the conceit is that the company started 50 years ago (not 50 books ago) and that each of the 50 chapter titles is a title (in publishing order) of one of their 50 books. The plot is convoluted, unpredicatble, meandering, maddening, and so much fun. In lesser hands this would have been all "stuff," but Charles Ardai (who is one of the Hard Case founders, and appears in modified form as one of the cha ...more
Mar 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: hard-case-crime
Disappointing. The book promises to satirize the cheapie pulp noir paperback phenomenon the way Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" satirized B movie exploitation movies, but by page 50 it turns into a tiresomely exhausting suspense tale that runs around like chicken with its head cut off, going nowhere.
Sep 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If I were the type who only gave books five-star ratings when they were obvious classics of English literature, I'd give this book maybe three stars at the most. Thankfully, I'm not that type. I'm giving this book five stars, and that's because it was a tremendous joy to read from the first page to the last. There's a bit of a gimmick to it--in this, the 50th book released by Hard Case Crime, publisher Charles Ardai writes a book about Hard Case Crime if it existed 50 years ago, and titles each ...more
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I just can't say enough nice things about this clever, fast-paced novel from Hard Case Crime publisher Charles Ardai. The concept is irresistible: for the 50th Hard Case Crime publication, in honor of the fictional 50th year of Hard Case Crime, publisher Ardai wrote a novel set 50 years ago (in 1958 -- the book was published last year) where each of its 50 chapters is titled for one of Hard Case's books, in order of their publication. Clever, huh? Julio Cortazar would probably have approved.

Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
In an ode to the dime-store era paperbacks, Ardai crafts an intelligent pulp masterpiece while simultaneously saluting his very own Hardcase Crime. 'Fifty-To-One' celebrates the first 50 books from Hardcase Crime with each chapter the title of one of the corresponding published books. What makes this work is the intricately woven tale of a young woman's journey from innocent farm life to big city indecency and seemingly innocuous encounter with a certain devious publisher out for a quick buck. B ...more
Wayne Simmons
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fifty-to-One is a very special book for Hard Case Crime fans, marking the press's 50th release. Rather fittingly, then, it's the story of a down-on-his-luck publisher commissioning the wrong book and finding himself in all sorts of trouble with the mob, the cops and just about everyone else he runs into.

We follow the author of said book and wannabe dancer, Trixie, for most of the story, Ardai's style and mood very much like the pulptastic Gabriel Hunt series he edits (and occasionally writes wi
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: noir
From the hard case crime imprint, a kind of tongue in cheek noir with some good noir about a young women from Aberdeen south Dakota who moves to nyc when she is 18 and becomes a dancer and novelist. Not the best of the hard case crime's titles, a bit too "funny" for me.
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Published in 2008, Fifty-to-One is the fiftieth volume issued in the Hard Case Crime series of detective and crime fiction books. Written by Charles Ardai, the cofounder of Hard Case Crime and a Shamus Award nominee under his pseudonym, Richard Aleas, the book was written to both serve as a celebration (at the time) of the 50 book achievement of their publishing house and also as a writing challenge for Ardai himself.

The idea behind Fifty-to-One was to write a cohesive, entertaining fifty chapte
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads, mystery
Though about forty-volumes shy of being a completist on the publication line they're celebrating here, I've been a fan of Hard Case Crime and their pulpy aesthetic since they debuted in 2004. Fifty-to-One, a tour de force in which the line's founder Charles Ardai spins a narrative in fifty chapters named after each of the company's publications (in order!), is a cheekily gleeful commemoration of their achievement of bringing pulp back to the shelves of bookstores and libraries everywhere.

The plo
Adam Carter
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Probably the cleverest book I've ever read. Each chapter shares its title with one of Hard Case Crime's previous novels, in order of publication. Not only has Ardai made a story out of it, but he's made a very decent story out of it, and managed to throw in enough plot twists to keep the reader happy. For me, it's up there with Catch-22 for cleverness.

The author is one of the founders of Hard Case Crime, and the male lead is essentially based on himself. Ordinarily I don't like books where the
Nov 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
Fitting its celebratory nature, Fifty-to-One is a lighter story than many of Hard Case Crime's books. It's a book with a lot of gimmicks--it posits the existence of Hard Case Crime as a paperback publisher 50 years ago; each of its fifty chapters is named after each of Hard Case Crime's first fifty books--but in spite of that, it's a good novel in its own right.

What really makes the book stand out is the delicate balance of tone. It's not a pitch-black noir novel, but it's not really a light-hea
Shannon Appelcline
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Here's the premise that got the book started, from the author's note: "Of course, in retrospect the concept was insane: to write a 50th book that would commemorate the (fictitious) 50th anniversary of the founding of Hard Case Crime, set 50 years ago, and to tell the story in 50 chapters, with each chapter bearing the title of one of our 50 books, in their order of publication."

The book is a mystery/pulp by Charles Ardai, who is the editor of the imprint and has previously written two superb boo
Apr 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: noirboiled
The fiftieth title from Hard Case Crime is self-indulgently amusing noir lite. Author/publisher Charles Ardai explains the impulse behind Fifty-to-One: "to write a 50th book that would commemorate the (fictitious) 50th anniversary of the founding of Hard Case Crime, set 50 years ago, and to tell the story in 50 chapters, with each chapter bearing the title of one of our 50 books, in their order of publication." What makes this a real challenge, of course, is that each chapter is connected in som ...more
Dec 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulp_fiction
Hard Case Crime's fiftieth publication is quite the gimmick. When the story involves a fictional owner of Hard Case Crime publications and a wide-eyed, new-to-New-York, South Dakota farmgirl named Trixie (Patricia), you know you're in for a great ride.

What's fascinating about this book is that they wrote this story so that there were fifty chapters, each chapter having the name of each of their 50 publications, in order. So, they had to create a storyline that pulled in elements of their previou
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Commemorating the publishing of the fiftieth book published by Hard Case Crime, Charles Ardai crafts a classic mystery of the hard-boiled, film noir detective genre championed by Hard Case Crime. Rewriting Hard Case Crime to 50 years ago, Ardai populates his underside of New York with innocent dames, not-so innocent dames, a book publisher willing to do what it takes to make his business a success, a Sicilian Mafia Don, numerous mobsters, corrupt cops, and all the sorts of characters that popula ...more
Bruce Nieminski
Feb 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: hard-case-crime
7/10 (320 pages)
Finished 2/16/15

There's over a hundred books in the Hard Case Crime series, and Fifty to One was my first foray into the expanding list. Pulp crime is the name of the game, with this story set in 1958 New York, involving a girl from South Dakota looking to make it by who quickly gets involved in a web of crime and deceit. Those with a penchant for noir style novels will certainly dig Fifty To One, (and my guess would be many others in the Hard Case Crime series) although this one
This is so much fun. I don't read much crime fiction and I don't think I have ever read any "pulp" paperbacks. However, I figured out that the Hard Crime books that Ardai publishes are an homage to the best of the crime novels of the 1950's.

And this book is the the homage of homages. Ardai has take the titles of the 49 books he published before this one and made them chapters in this book. Somehow he manages to use these titles to string together an amazing tale about Tricia, a small-town girl,
Jun 29, 2014 rated it liked it
I shouldn't say anything negative about this special issue. It is Ardai's love letter to his 10+ years ongoing project and to pulp novels in general. I had immense pleasure in discovering cleverly disguised characters from previous books and HCC inside jokes (like where do unusually long feet on some covers come from). It brought back so many pleasant memories and - when checking out the gallery of covers - I was surprised that I've actually read just 25 of those first 50 books. Which is good as ...more
Jan 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
The author is also the editor of the Hard Case Crime novel imprint, and he wrote a special novel to commemorate the 50th Hard Case book published. This story is set 50 years ago, with a fictional Hard Case Crime books company started back then. This is a clever fun book -- nothing provocative or edgy -- and can be enjoyed as pure escapism. In-jokes are everywhere, including a fictionalized bit role for a couple of well-known mystery writers. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the Hard Crime novels ...more
Jul 31, 2010 added it
Shelves: gave-up, hardcase
Yuk. I dislike stories that serve no purpose other than product promotion. The Hard Case series has undoubtably captured my interest and some of the reprints are great reads. This one is just a bit too cute for my tastes. Fifty-to-one references this as the 50th hard case release written especially for the series, there are 49 chapters, each one titled with the corresponding Hard Case release, one of the characters is the Hard Case crime book publisher hiding from a disgruntled writer etc etc et ...more
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
It was a very fun read. A tightly plotted 1950s suspense story or mobsters, showgirls, and pulp fiction writers. It's all spun around a fun little gimmick: imagine if this publisher (Hard Case Crime) really did exist and each of the 50 chapters is a title from the publisher.

It was a light and engrossing read that had you racing along to keep pace with what the character will do next and how they wil get out of the next jam as they try to figure out who robbed a mob boss and not get killed.
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ardai focuses on a young, innocent small-town hick as his protagonist. This young innocent hick comes to big bad New York City and encounters strippers and mobsters and, with the entire city seemingly against this protagonist, solves a deepening mystery.

This book (Fifty To One) opens with Patricia Heverstadt arriving from
South Dakota with two suitcases and a typewriter out to follow her
older sister's footsteps in New York City. Of course, her sister tells her
to go home and, within moments of
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love Hard Case Crime books. The pulp covers and stories! This was the 50th HCC title, and the author-slash-publisher decided to make it 50 chapters long, with each chapter being a HCC title. In order of publication. None of the titles seem "forced" into the plot - not even "Diet of Treacle". My favorite is "Zero Cool".

But, even without the gimmick, this is a fun title.
Michael Brown
Dec 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: series-reading
Number 50 of the Hard Case Crime series. Some old, some new and like this one a big of a cross over making fun of the series and the hard boiled detective/ mystery/ crime stories is the Hard Case Library.
Aug 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Certainly not the best of the series, either on the basis of originality or of good good writing, but this book wins points for carrying out the strange novelty act that it sets out to. The book, being the anniversary (50th book of the series) has fifty chapters named sequentially after every book in said series. It needs to take some weird, irrelevant turns to make it there, but make it it does.
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fifty-to-One is a book written around a gimmick: Use the title of the first fifty Hard Case Crime books as chapter titles inside that fiftieth book. Charles Ardai actually pulls this off beautifully-the titles provide a structure to hang the plot on, like tinsel on a tree. The book itself is really fun to read, too. Plus I like gimmicks within reason-I've seen too many William Castle movies not to. This novel celebrates the Hard Case Crime line. I say long may it reign.
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
A little too gimmicky for its own good but still a decent read. The writer, in a tribute to reaching the 50th novel of the HCC series, names a chapter after each of the 50 books and tries (sometimes too hard) to tie a theme from their titles into the plot. It takes a couple of turns too many but is an engaging enough read.
Dec 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Read the epilogue first. Good classic-style pulp on its own. But when you know that each chapter is titled for a Hard Case Crime novel in the order they were published, there's a whole separate appreciation for the puzzle-solving that went into creating the story in the first place. Charles Ardai proving once again that he's an intellectual badass (as if there wasn't enough evidence already).
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Charles Ardai is a founder of Hard Case Crime, a pulp crime novel publisher, as well as an editor and author. He also writes under the pen name Richard Aleas.
More about Charles Ardai...

Other Books in the Series

Hard Case Crime (1 - 10 of 112 books)
  • Grifter's Game (Hard Case Crime #1)
  • Fade to Blonde (Hard Case Crime #2)
  • Top of The Heap (Cool and Lamb #13)
  • Little Girl Lost (John Blank #1)
  • Two for the Money  (Hard Case Crime #5)
  • The Confession (Hard Case Crime #6)
  • Home Is the Sailor (Hard Case Crime #7)
  • Kiss Her Goodbye (Hard Case Crime #8)
  • 361 (Hard Case Crime #9)
  • Plunder of the Sun (Al Colby #2)

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