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Dorothy B. Hughes was one of the most popular and successful mystery and detective writers from the 1940s through the 1950s. She had a great influence on the next generation of authors, especially women. She started her literary life as a poet, which helps explain the lyrical quality of her writing. Her work had more in common with British writers of the period such as Graham Greene and Eric Ambler than with Americans such as James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler. In Hughes’s novels, the male, hardboiled swagger is replaced by a more nuanced unease, even a sense of terror, with unseen forces, doomed heroes, and existentialism questioning of a world sinking into the barbarism of World War II. She was a master of atmosphere who vividly captured the moods and the dark side of the period. Her best known novel, In a Lonely Place (1947), was adapted into a now-classic 1950 film directed by Nicholas Ray.
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