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Dread Journey Mass Market Paperback – 1947

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Mass Market Paperback, 1947
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x989dbe40) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x993fdc58) out of 5 stars A noir classic that still packs a punch 13 April 2015
By Chris - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Aboard the Chief, a passenger train chugging along from Los Angeles to New York, Kitten Agnew knows she is going to die. She’s under contract to star as Clavdia in an adaptation of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, a film that director Viv Spender has been meaning to make for ages. Kitten is the last in a long line of starlets groomed for the role, only to be cast aside at the last minute as Vivian Spender becomes obsessed with another, younger starlet he imagines will make a superior Clavdia and complete his masterpiece. If only these young women didn’t meet unfortunate ends—suicide by overdose of sleeping pills in the case of the last one, Viv’s wife. But even as Kitten is forced to share a suite with Gratia, the naïve young Newfoundland beauty that Viv has picked as the next Clavdia, she is unwilling to give up without a fight. Kitten has an iron-clad contract on the role, and her lawyer—uncle to a previous failed, dead Clavdia—is eager to take Viv Spender to court. Thus, Kitten knows she will either land the role of her dreams or die in some nefarious accident aboard the Chief.

Also on the train are a cast of washed-up Hollywood dregs. Leslie Augustin is an award-winning band leader and composer, but also something of a lecherous playboy looking for drink and dames; he may have struck gold after locking eyes with the innocent Gratia. Hank Cavanaugh is his drinking buddy, once a hotshot reporter now completing his descent to the bottom of a whisky bottle: broken by reporting on immense poverty and famine in China, and cracked for good after spending too much time on the Pacific Front. Sidney Pringle once had dreams of becoming the Great American Novelist now bumming a ride back home to the safety of his mother, a failed screenwriter who’s just as broken and shamed as Hank—crushed by his own pride and failures, devastated by his own ego. Also aboard are some couples more than thrilled to see such Hollywood icons in their same car, living their vacations or honeymoons without knowing Kitten’s immense dread.

Dread Journey falls about as close to perfection as a book can get. The setting is an ideal confined space for suspense, and Hughes’ execution of the plot makes no mis-steps, using well-drawn characters and setting to the fullest. The excellent prose makes it a joy to read, compelling the reader onward by the weight of the oppressive tension. The suspense begins on page one, and doesn’t relent until the electrifying ending. There's also an interesting use of class and race, as the (black) porter sees everything as the Hollywood elite overlook him. Dorothy Hughes had her heyday in the 1940s, but in the last few years she’s begun to receive some long-overdue recognition. Books like this one show that the acclaim is more than deserved. Dread Journey is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves well-versed in suspense or noir but has yet to read a Hughes novel—you need to see what you’ve been missing out on.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x994b78f4) out of 5 stars best of the best 30 Dec. 2013
By Anthony W. Donley - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dread Journey is one of Hughes' masterpieces. A dark story of Hollywood and ambition gone wrong.highly recommended to anyone who likes domestic suspense
HASH(0x994b7960) out of 5 stars I love Dorothy B Hughes 8 July 2016
By Lisa Perkins - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love Dorothy B Hughes, but found this story to be just okay. It kind of dragged and I got a little bored, plus never really got attached to the characters.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x989f8d50) out of 5 stars Two Stars 8 Feb. 2016
By JS - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The age of the book shows. Very B movie style writing and plot.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Carla Norton - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
F a irly boring
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