Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wade Miller's Branded Woman

Book Review:

Tough, jaded, and smart, Cay Morgan is like any other jewel smugger except for one thing: she's a female. And a remarkably attractive female at that. In fact, her only physical flaw is a brand on her forehead, which left a permanent scar in the shape of the letter T. A brand inflicted as a permanent warning by "The Trader," a criminal kingpin standing at the top of the smuggling pyramid.

Five years later, Morgan is determined to exact vengeance for the painful imprint. She is in Mazatlan, shadowing a man called Valdes, a known associate of the Trader. A private detective has accompanied her, ostensibly to watch her back and perform some legwork while she hunts for her nemesis. Things go bad, though, when Valdes turns up dead, cutting off her last link to the Trader. And then things go from bad to worse when she stumbles across the body of her private detective.

Stunning plot twists and an utterly unpredictable conclusion are hallmarks of Branded Woman. Further, Morgan is fleshed out as a full-fledged person, not a cardboard cutout the way that many female protagonists are portrayed. All in all, while it's not the finest in the Hard Case Series ("Touch of Death" and "Bust" are two I consider superior), it's certainly high quality work that's helping to resurrect the Pulp genre.

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