In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes
(New York Review Books)

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...Hughes refuses to make her female characters passive. It would spoil things to say how, but as Megan Abbott points out in her splendidly perceptive afterword, Hughes takes the gender cliches of noir and turns them on their head.
-NPR

Synopsis

A classic California noir with a feminist twist, this prescient 1947 novel exposed misogyny in post-World War II American society, making it far ahead of its time.

Los Angeles in the late 1940s is a city of promise and prosperity, but not for former fighter pilot Dix Steele.  To his mind nothing has come close to matching “that feeling of power and exhilaration and freedom that came with loneness in the sky.” He prowls the foggy city night—­bus stops and stretches of darkened beaches and movie houses just emptying out—seeking solitary young women. His funds are running out and his frustrations are growing. Where is the good life he was promised? Why does he always get a raw deal? Then he hooks up with his old Air Corps buddy Brub, now working for the LAPD, who just happens to be on the trail of the strangler who’s been terrorizing the women of the city for months...

Written with controlled elegance, Dorothy B. Hughes’s tense novel is at once an early indictment of a truly toxic masculinity and a twisty page-turner with a surprisingly feminist resolution. A classic of golden age noir, In a Lonely Place also inspired Nicholas Ray’s 1950 film of the same name, starring Humphrey Bogart.
 

About Dorothy B. Hughes

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Dorothy B. Hughes (1904-1993) was an American mystery writer and critic. Born Dorothy Belle Flanagan in Kansas City, Missouri, she received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and worked as a reporter before attending graduate school at the University of New Mexico and Columbia University. In 1931 her collection of poetry, Dark Certainty, was selected for inclusion in the Yale Series of Younger Poets. The next year she got married and it was not until 1940 that she published the first of her fourteen mystery novels, The So Blue Marble. For four decades Hughes was the crime-fiction reviewer for The Albuquerque Tribune, earning an Edgar Award for Outstanding Mystery Criticism from the Mystery Writers of America in 1950. The Expendable Man, published in 1963, was her last novel. "I simply hadn't the tranquility required to write" while caring for her family, she later said. In 1978, however, she published The Case of the Real Perry Mason, a critical biography of Erle Stanley Gardner, and that same year she was recognized as a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. Among Hughes's best-known books are The Cross-Eyed Bear, Ride the Pink Horse, and In a Lonely Place (which was made into a movie directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart). Walter Mosley is the author of more than thirty-four books, including the best-selling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins. Among the many honors he has received are an O. Henry Award, a Grammy, and PEN America's Lifetime Achievement Award.
 
Published August 15, 2017 by NYRB Classics. 224 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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NPR

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Reviewed by John Powers on Aug 22 2017

...Hughes refuses to make her female characters passive. It would spoil things to say how, but as Megan Abbott points out in her splendidly perceptive afterword, Hughes takes the gender cliches of noir and turns them on their head.

Read Full Review of In a Lonely Place (New York R... | See more reviews from NPR

NPR

Good
Reviewed by John Powers on Aug 22 2017

"In A Lonely Place" is a gripping story, but Hughes was too talented, ambitious and grounded to play it merely for suspense.

Read Full Review of In a Lonely Place (New York R... | See more reviews from NPR

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