The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes

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Synopsis

“It was surprising what old experiences remembered could do to a presumably educated, civilized man.” And Hugh Denismore, a young doctor driving his mother’s Cadillac from Los Angeles to Phoenix, is eminently educated and civilized. He is privileged, would seem to have the world at his feet, even. Then why does the sight of a few redneck teenagers disconcert him? Why is he reluctant to pick up a disheveled girl hitchhiking along the desert highway? And why is he the first person the police suspect when she is found dead in Arizona a few days later?

Dorothy B. Hughes ranks with Raymond Chandler and Patricia Highsmith as a master of mid-century noir. In books like In a Lonely Place and Ride the Pink Horse she exposed a seething discontent underneath the veneer of twentieth-century prosperity. With The Expendable Man, first published in 1963, Hughes upends the conventions of the wrong-man narrative to deliver a story that engages readers even as it implicates them in the greatest of all American crimes.
 

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 July 3, 2012 by NYRB Classics. 264 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Expendable Man

Kirkus Reviews

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A welcome return after many years of one of the innovators of the suspense story (The So Blue Marble, The Cross-Eyed Bear, Fallen Sparrow- well remembered all) gratifyingly corroborates that an old hand has not lost its sure touch.

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The Bookbag

It is the lawyers, petty criminals, politicians, soured plainclothesmen of Phoenix that form the suffocating web around the novel's heroic protagonist, doctor Hugh Densmore, that gives this novel a dramatic momentum and an insight into the morally corrupt towns- folk and contrasts Phoenix and it...

Sep 08 2012 | Read Full Review of The Expendable Man

The New Yorker

With this summer’s reissue of the 1963 noir “The Expendable Man,” New York Review Books has given readers the opportunity to rediscover the extraordinary Dorothy B. Hughes. Born in 1904, Hughes was the author of fourteen novels and a... With this summer’s reissue of the 1963 noir “The Expendable ...

Aug 16 2012 | Read Full Review of The Expendable Man

The New York Review of Books

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.

Jul 03 2012 | Read Full Review of The Expendable Man

Book Forum

Hugh's hyper-alertness recalls earlier psychological crime narratives like Crime and Punishment or "The Telltale Heart" or, indeed, Hughes's own In a Lonely Place, with the important difference here that our man is innocent.

Jul 31 2012 | Read Full Review of The Expendable Man

California Literary Review

It’s the perfect noir opening – a man is driving alone across the California desert as twilight falls: “The long and lonely country was the color of sand.

Aug 29 2012 | Read Full Review of The Expendable Man

Reader Rating for The Expendable Man
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