From: pmf_nz ( pmf_nz@yahoo.co.nz)
Date: 29 Apr 2006

Hard Case Crime's BRANDED WOMAN by Wade Miller is my most recent read.
 It's a hardboiled adventure story that reminds me of David Dodge's novels. Cay Morgan, a former smuggler, arrives in Mexico with a .357 Magnum, planning to hunt down and take revenge on a mysterious person known as The Trader, who branded her five years before for disobeying orders that one of The Trader's minions had relayed to her.

Early in the book I noticed the large number of fetishistic descriptions of Cay's body and clothing. This fervour extends to the environmental descriptions. My favourite over-the-top one is a description of the Isla de Puesta del Sol as a "verdant bosomy mound"!
 The development of the story is refreshingly unpredictable, though I guessed The Trader's true identify by half-way through the book. The crook characters D'Hureau and Felix remind me (in a good way) of Gutman and Joel Cairo from THE MALTESE FALCON.

The ending of the novel has a satisfying climax, and there is still a surprise left even if you've guessed who The Trader is. For me, the most important aspect of BRANDED WOMAN is that it is a type of novel that I've been interested to read: it's a hard-boiled novel told from the perspective of a femme fatale. Cay possesses all the recognisable traits of hard-boiled fiction's most notorious female archetype; but this time, her story is the main plot of the novel.


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