Synopses & Reviews
The setting of this classic 1947 noir is post-World War II Los Angeles. For many here, the golden promise of Southern California is running headlong into bleak reality. Returning veterans face a crisis of identity and masculinity and in the wide boulevards and dark canyons of the city, a serial killer preys on young working gilrs who wait alone in bars or at lonely bus stops.
Hardboiled mystery writer Dorothy B. Hughes employs a bold narrative strategy, writing from inside the mind of a man who may himself be the murderer. The suggestively named Dix Steele is an ex-airman, an isolated, tough-talking drifter who maintains the appearance of a nearly normal life, but spends his nights restlessly roaming the streets of L.A. The first threat of Dix's carefully maintained charade comes in the form of a chance meeting with his best friend from the service, now a detective assigned to the serial strangler case. Playing with fire, Dix offers to help his buddy map the identity of the killer and is soon providing eerily accurate theories.
Enter the femme fatale: Glamorous actress Laurel Grey has left many men in her wake and survived more than one hard knock on her way up the Hollywood ladder. In his desperate efforst to win this potent goddess, Dix lights the fuse that will explode his rigid masculine facade. It's not his detective buddy, but Laurel and the detective's savvy wife who see through to the truth.
As she takes us deeper into the killer's story and into Dix's tortured soul Hughes exposes the anatomy of postwar American misogyny. Writing in a genre dominated by such macho figures as Jim Thompson, Raymond Chandler, and James M. Cain, she gives the traditional hardboiled thriller a wryly subversive gender twist. Her virtuoso writing became the basis for a classic film noir starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. Especially fascinating for fans and students of noir are the transformations that took place in bringing this dark, compelling novel to the screen.
"A tour de force laying open the mind and motives of a killer with extraordinary empathy. The structure is flawless, and the scenes of a postwar L.A. have an immediacy that puts Chandler to shame. No wonder Hughes is the master we keep turning to." Sara Paretsky, author of the V.I. Warshawski novels
"A superb novel by one of crime fiction's finest writers of psychological suspence....What a pleasure it is to see this tale in print once again!" Marcia Muller, author of the Sharon McCone novels
"This lady is the Queen of Noir, and In a Lonely Place is her crown." Laurie R. King, author of the Mary Russell novels
A 1947 classic that takes us inside the mind of a male serial killer. Author Dorothy B. Hughes explores the ana-tomy of American -misogyny and -accomplishes a mystery writing tour de force by depicting his eventual -capture-by two daring and powerful women-from his point of view. The characters of Dix Steele and Laurel Grey, the glamorous actress he falls for but can't hold on to, were so well drawn that they became the basis for extraordinary performances by Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame in the 1950 film version of the book, which also reflects the suspense and hard-boiled edginess of Hughes's -writing.
Called "an author with a flair for terror" by The New Yorker, Hughes was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1978.
This 1947 classic--described as a gripping portrait of American postwar machismo gone mad--explores the anatomy of American misogyny and accomplishes a mystery writing tour de force by depicting the killer's eventual capture--by two daring and powerful women--from his point of view.
"Puts Chandler to shame . . . Hughes is the master we keep turning to."Sara Paretsky, author of the V. I. Warshawski novels
"A superb novel by one of crime fiction's finest writers of psychological suspense. . . . What a pleasure it is to see this tale in print once again!"Marcia Miller, author of the Sharon McCone novels
"This lady is the queen of noir, and In a Lonely Place is her crown."Laurie R. King, author of the Mary Russell novels
Postwar Los Angeles is a lonely place where the American Dream is showing its seamy undersideand a stranger is preying on young women. The suggestively names Dix Steele, a cynical vet with a chip on his shoulder about the opposite sex, is the LAPD's top suspect. Dix knows enough to watch his step, especially since his best friend is on the force, but when he meets the luscious Laurel Graya femme fatale with brainssomething begins to crack. The basis for extraordinary performances by Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame in the 1950 film version of the book, In a Lonely Place tightens the suspence with taut, hard-boiled prose and stunningly undoes the convential noir plot.
Femmes Fatales restores to print the best of womens writing in the classic pulp genres of the mid-20th century. From mystery to hard-boiled noir to taboo lesbian romance, these rediscovered queens of pulp offer subversive perspectives on a turbulent era. Enjoy the series: Bedelia; The Blackbirder; Bunny Lake Is Missing; By Cecile; The G-String Murders; The Girls in 3-B; In a Lonely Place; Laura; Mother Finds a Body; Now, Voyager; Skyscraper; Stranger on Lesbos; Women's Barracks.
One of the best portraits of American postwar machismo gone mad.
About the Author
Dorothy Hughes (1904-1993) was born in Kansas City, MO, and lived most of her life in New Mexico. A journalist and a poet (Yale Younger Poets Series), she began publishing novels in 1940. Of the fourteen she eventually published, most are hardboiled detective stories, and three were made into successful films.Lisa Maria Hogeland is associate professor of English and women's studies at the University of Cincinnati and the author of Feminism and Its Fictions: The Consciousness-Raising Novel and the Women's Liberation Movement.