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Branded Woman (Hard Case Crime #11)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  306 ratings  ·  40 reviews
International jewelry smuggling may be a man’s business, but beautiful Cay Morgan can hold her own with the best. Until the day a shadowy rival known only as The Trader has her abducted and scarred for life as a warning to stay out of his way.

Now Cay’s on her way to Mazatlan, where one of The Trader’s men has been spotted. There’s a big deal going down – but she’s not ther
Paperback, HCC-011, 206 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Hard Case Crime (first published 1952)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  306 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Aug 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cool-covers, hardcase
Catherine "Cay" Morgan travels to Mazatlan looking for The Trader, a jewel smuggler who carved a T into her forehead for dealing on his turf five years earlier. Cay is aided by PI George Hodd, and Walter Kilmer, a fisherman. In her quest for vengeance, Cay learns of a fortune in buried gold. Only nothing is as it seems...

First off, I almost liked this but there was definitely some blandness to it. While the plot was good, Cay was unsympathetic sometimes and I found it hard to care what happened
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Branded and humiliated by a jewel smuggling boss calling himself ‘The Trader’ five years ago, Cay Morgan, a femme fatale of sorts, travels to Mazatlan accompanied by a PI, in George Hodd, on a quest for vengeance.

From a blistering opening at the airport terminal of Mazatlan where Cay’s criminal prowess is recognised through a rather violent and highly entertaining encounter all the way to the bullet riddled conclusion, Wade Miller’s ‘Branded Women’ is all class. Written in the 1950’s, this pulp
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ch
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a good example of the 1950s crime-noir novels Hard Case is hell-bent on reprinting. Wade Miller was a pseudonym for Robert Wade and William Miller, who co-conspired for a number of excellent mystery novels back in the day. Their books are all pretty good, and Branded Woman is one of the best.

Cay Morgan elbowed her way into jewelry smuggling, a tough woman in a man’s world, and held her own for quite a while. That came to a crashing halt when one of her rivals, The Trader, had her abducte
Feb 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: hot scarface blondes
Shelves: hard-case-crime
Sultry sexy blonde hit-woman goes to sunny Acapulco to get even with the creep that scarred her face. Great revenge actioner and erotically charged as well, I don’t think I’ve ever read a bad novel by Wade Miller. Another great find from Hard-on Case Crime.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Branded Woman is a noir classic fully worth a five star rating. I loved this book for a variety of reasons. Catherine "Cay" Morgan is a criminal who runs afoul of a worse criminal. As punishment the Trader (our mysterioso Big Bad) doesn't kill her, he brands her-hence the title. This proves to be one of the classic blunders. (Such as "never get involved in a land war in Asia" or "never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!") That blunder is this: Never leave your enemy alive. Cay i ...more
I think there is a plot twist or wrinkle in every single chapter, sometimes more than one per chapter, and that keeps this novel in constant motion. Cay Morgan is a strong and resourceful character and to have a female protagonist in a 1952 crime novel who isn't a femme-fatale type was pretty special. Not a lot of memorable scenes, but plenty of action nonetheless and that made this a decent read. ...more
Jack Heath
Mar 22, 2019 marked it as to-read
Synopsis: beautiful Cay Morgan can hold her own as an international jewel smuggler. Then a shadowy rival, The Trader, abducts her.
Graham P
Jun 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Cay Morgan is vengeful lust personified, with razor-ship instincts, looks to kill (platinum blonde, no less), and a bountiful bosom that no man's eyes can avoid. The writing team of Wade Miller churn out a fun, yet quite pedestrian, crime novel where revenge, sex, double-cross and murder all play their roles in equal parts. Set on the Mexican coast, Cay Morgan arrives in the small, seaside city to get revenge on the Trader. What did the Trader do? Well, he carved an T on her forehead with a buck ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
To be honest, I didn't finish this book. It wasn't bad but it was a pretty mediocre, by-the-numbers, uninspiring revenge story. Two things really stand out:

1. The motive for the revenge is ridiculous to any modern audience. There are two characters (the main character and a secondary character) who are an all-consuming rage and desire for revenge on a brutal international criminal. Both of them had double-crossed or stolen from this crime lord and the crime lord had exacted a terrible price. Wha
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Russell Grant
Apr 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Pretty good crime thriller about a woman smuggler who is after a rival who cheated her out of deal 5 years prior, branding her for life. It's a fast paced read, and Cay as the central character is both intriguing and a nice touch considering this is from the early 50's. That said, don't expect this to be too progressive for modern eyes. I had difficulty fully engaging with this one. It may be a case of supporting characters feeling more like plot drivers than actual characters with personal moti ...more
Jim Thompson
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this. It was refreshingly non-misogynistic for a '50s pulp novel. The protagonist is a beautiful blonde, yes, and there are some dated gender stereotypes in there, but for it's time she's a pretty strong, independent woman, and pretty open in her scorn for guys who are looking for someone to call "baby" and take care of. I liked that touch, that little bit of almost-feminism in a book like this.

Overall, it was just a nice, quick, fun read. Again, dated (like, the idea that so
Ken Schloman
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Written in 1952, the novel is a wonderful example of the pulp novel era and a good addition to the Hard Case Crime portfolio. While the novel may be closer to the noir character study genre it does blend many hardboiled elements. Protagonist is not the typical hardboiled private eye but rather a lead female who is not the traditional femme fatale of the genre. As with most of the pulp era novels, it is not great "literature" but does provide an entertaining read. Fans of the pulp era should give ...more
John Bruni
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a lot of fun because the femme fatale is the protagonist, for a change. It's not often you see that. In this case she is literally a branded woman. A man known as the Trader branded her with the letter T high on her forehead, and now she seeks vengeance. This book is full of twists and turns, some silly, some annoying, some spot on. The ones that work really, really work well, especially the final line. I can't recommend it enough. ...more
Eric C
Jun 15, 2018 rated it liked it
My first Wade Miller book. Had some great moments in it. Also some incomprehensible moments. For the most part a quick fun read. Average for this type of novel.
Izzy Corbo
Sep 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Nice, quick read with plenty of twists and turns. Strong female character (although occasionally acting a bit naïve) interesting set up and a fairly surprising ending.
Jonathan Kim
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's a little slow at the beginning, but once it picks up, it's a hell of a ride. Also, a little anti-typical is the female lead.

It's some really enjoyable pulp writing.
Craig Childs
Dec 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Many pulp novels begin with a strong compelling premise only to later fall apart under the weight of melodrama or their own implausibility. Branded Woman had the reverse problem. I found the premise to be weak from the outset. Cay Morgan used to be a smuggler until five years ago she ran afoul of another smuggler, a mysterious person only known as The Trader, who had her surreptitiously kidnapped, drugged, and branded with a “T” on her forehead. When the novel opens, Cay has been searching for T ...more
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
There were a few big problems with this book. For one thing, the heroine was very unlikable. It was hard to sympathize with her, and hard to root for her. In books of this nature, you really need a heater an extremely likable character that you are rooting for or character that you really hate and who you hope will get their just desserts. Cay was neither – the author wanted us to sympathize with her, but I found it hard to. Even worse, her character was inconsistent – he starts of the book is a ...more
Dec 18, 2010 rated it liked it
The beginning of the novel keeps you thinking that the main character has nerves of steel, and it makes her a fairly interesting and vicious person to follow through the book.
In the middle segment, however, the character changes all of sudden into someone with more human emotions and weaknesses, seemingly willing to give up her entire plan for an emotional reason that would have seemed inconceivable in the beginning.
It does not so much ruin the book as make for an awkward couple of chapters whe
Mar 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: justok
A case could be made for or against feminism in this book. The main characteristic a strong, independent woman who occasionally needs to be kept and controlled by a man. Anyway, this is a pulp novel and the author could not have written it for any other reason than to entertain. I have read a lot of classic crime books lately and this one only stands out because the protagonist is a woman. The plot is standard revenge and the only remarkable character, a cynical, pacifist detective, is killed ha ...more
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
"'You've got something else now. Me. I'm yours and you're mine. I've taken you over and I've taken over your debts. I'm not asking you to give up anything. But from now on, I pay the bills for both of us.'
...I've needed you always, her trembling form implored him, and even as she clasped him to her she thought joyously, I belong to somebody, at last I belong to somebody!"

Yes, that's right. That is what women want.
Dutch Southern
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
I don't even know if I finished this. Last thing I remember is the beautiful yet scarred assassin falls in love with a fisherman and he catches her in a hotel room with one of her targets and gets the wrong idea. Come to think of it this book is a lot like "Three's Company" but longer and without all the homophobia. Way to go alias Wade Miller.
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
Fine twists and surprises drive this plot focused novel. Characters are interesting and fleshed out, but the main character is, at times, an overwrought 1950's stereotype, but at others a hard-as-nails tough. Fine noir of revenge, double-crossing, and greed. Highly recommended, especially because of the one-more-page plot. ...more
James Powell
Sep 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-crime
I wanted to like this book, but something just didn't click for me. The main character didn't feel quite right, I suppose. She was smart enough, but the balance between sexy and tough never felt quite right. It's a quick read with some good action and suspense, but it simply couldn't match some of the better stories reprinted in the Hard Case Crime line. ...more
May 17, 2016 rated it liked it
An unusual book. It starts well with an interesting premise and I liked the character of George who comes across more compelling than the lead.
The middle it falls apart under the weight of melodrama and the lead Cay goes from a strong woman to an utter sap which was almost cringe worthy.
The end starts to redeem itself but the middle is awful.
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Of of the Hard Case Crime Series. This was a story about Cay and the Trader. She was branded on the forehead with a T and it is her persuit of the Trader to avenge what he did. It is a rather dark book, but was very hard to put down.
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Nice quick reading with a female protagonist who is, yes, unlikable, but still holds your attention. I especially liked the way it ended, since I thought it was going to fall into the damsel in distress vein, and yet it didn't. ...more
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Excellent read. Very fast paced. I recommend starting it in the morning. You may finish it in a day. The characters are engaging and the ending has an excellent twist.
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See also Bob Wade

Wade Miller is a pen name of two authors, Robert Allison “Bob” Wade (1920-present) and H. Bill Miller (1920-61). The two also wrote under several other pseudonyms, including Whit Masterson and Will Daemer.

Received the Shamus Award, "The Eye" (Lifetime achievment award) in 1988.

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