March 16, 2020

Happy Women’s History Month! Today’s book rec is In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes. This is a great piece of noir mystery fiction, written right after WWII. A pilot, Dix Steele, moves to LA and happens to run into a former pilot friend, who is now a detective and just so happens to be working on a series of cases of murders of pretty young women, which just so happened to start after our hero Dix arrived in the city. A coincidence, I’m sure. Dix stays in touch with his detective friend and monitors the investigation, trying to steer it away from himself. He also falls in love with/becomes obsessed with a neighbor woman. It’s uh. It doesn’t look good for her. This book is suspenseful as hell and a great read; its first-person narration gives us a fascinating look at the mind of a misogynist murderous asshole. The psychology is fascinatingly correct, given that forensic psychology was still a relatively new practice and certainly wasn’t as advanced as it is now. Hughes was really prescient. It was made into a movie with Humphrey Bogart, which I haven’t seen, but I understand it’s quite different from the book. As long as we’re here, you should also read The Expendable Man by Hughes, which is equally as good, and which you should go into knowing as little as possible because there’s an amazing bit of narrative sleight-of-hand about 1/4 of the way through that turns the whole book on its head. To say more would be spoilers. Very well done. Check them both out.

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