Hard Case Crime celebrates its fiftieth book with Fifty to One by author / publisher Charles Ardai. Fifty to One follows the recipe of the standard hard boiled detective novel with the exception that the detective is a doll named Trixie. To mark the fifty Hard Case Crime books, each chapter title one published by Hard Case Crime. Yes, the link is sometimes tenuous but it is a cute gimmick.

Trixie is a country girl who comes to New York City for fame and fortune. She hopes to crash with her older sister Coral. Coral is in no position to have company. Trixie finds herself alone in the big city, gets ripped off, and finds a job in a nightclub run by mobster Sal Nicolazzo.

Trixie lives with a bunch of girls in an office building where Hard Case Crime has an office. Trixie recognizes the Hard Case Crime publisher as the guy who ripped her off on her first day in the city. Stuff happens and Trixie ends up writing a hard-boiled crime story for the publisher under the monicker Anonymous.

Unfortunately, I Robbed the Mob, Trixie’s book is about a heist at one of Nicolazzo’s clubs and the heist happens word for word right before the book is published. Nicolazzo is convinced the Hard Case Crime publisher knows who Anonymous is. This causes Trixie to have to find out who really stole the money to save both herself, her sister, and the publisher of Hard Case Crime.

Fifty published means fifty chapters. That is a few chapters too many. The plot soon becomes convoluted and you wish Charles Ardai would literally cut to the chase.

The ending is satisfactory but the reveal is pretty much a let down. Still, Fifty to One is a decent enough mystery novel. It is not one of Hard Case Crime’s best.

Fifty To One
Charles Ardai
Hard Case Crime 2011

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