In a Lonely Place (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 6 May 2010
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About the Author
Dorothy B. Hughes (1904-93) was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and lived most of her life in New Mexico. A journalist and a poet, she began publishing hard-boiled crime novels in 1940, three of which were made into successful films: The Fallen Sparrow (1943), Ride the Pink Horse (1947) and In a Lonely Place (1950). In her later years, Hughes reviewed crime novels for the LA Times, the New York Herald Tribune and other papers. She was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.
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Top Customer Reviews
"In a Lonely Place" is one of the first novelistic explorations of a serial killer. The primary character, Dix Steele, had been a fighter pilot stationed in England during WW II. Hughes introduces the reader to Dix as he wanders the streets on the outskirts of Los Angeles on a rainy foggy September evening looking for a young woman to rape and murder. The first potential victim evades him, but he soon finds another. The plot is complicated when Dix reconnects with his former Air Force buddy Brub Nicholai, and his lovely and perceptive wife Sylvia. Brub has become a detective who is investigating the murders of young women which, unknown to him, his old friend Dix has committed. A loner who suppresses his feelings of violent rage, Dix has become involved with a young divorced redhead, Laura, with a flair for high living. Dix's passion for Laura leads to his downfall.
Although narrated in the third person, Hughes' novel manages to get inside the mind and heart of Dix Steele. Hughes' taut, hardboiled writing makes the reader understand her chilling character and almost feel sympathy for him.Read more ›
This may have had resonance amongst a traumatised post war American G.I. generation. Indeed, the question is never posed but would we today suggest that Dix's mental state was exacerbated by PTSD? After all his first victim, the adored 'Brucie', was killed in wartime not before.
Told in a short, factual reportage style. The tension is ratcheted by Dix's desire to take risks. The main risk being to ingratiate himself with an Army buddy who is now a police detective with the LAPD and who happens to be investigating the series of murders of young women.
Interesting to read a woman author's insight into a man's mind who regards all women as 'liars and whores'. This is not gore-fest but instead a compelling insight into a man trapped in a very lonely place indeed.
Dorothy B. Hughes is one of the hardboiled authors of the classic period. Whilst this novel may not have the wit of Chandler or the plotting of Hammett, it does however fall into the category of a psychological thriller, the pace maybe somewhat slow for some readers, and the character of a serial killer may not be as believable as say in Jim Thompson's Killer inside me. However, it is intelligently written in an intuitive and introspective sense even though the climax is flagged well in advance.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this for a uni course and really enjoyed looking at a "Hollywood" novel. The uncertainty of the protagonist being the criminal or not is really compelling and I... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Peter
Fascinating study of the mind of a murderer, told with brilliant use of suspense. Made into a film starring Humphrey Bogart directed by Nicholas Ray - the story has little... Read morePublished on 4 Feb. 2014 by Pam Cook
Taut, tense thriller that has as many layers as the swirling mist with which the story opens. Beautifully written, this is a noir that's darker and more complex than the Bogart... Read morePublished on 17 Nov. 2013 by Bookhound
Dix Steele is back in town, and 'town' is post-war LA. His best friend Brub is on the force of the LAPD, and as the two meet in country clubs and beach... Read more