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In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes

In a Lonely Place (1947)

by Dorothy B. Hughes

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4112136,942 (3.99)94
  1. 21
    The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson (christiguc)
  2. 00
    The Blackbirder by Dorothy B. Hughes (sturlington)
  3. 11
    This Sweet Sickness by Patricia Highsmith (mambo_taxi)
    mambo_taxi: This Sweet Sickness is a good one to pick up if you enjoyed the fact that In a Lonely Place follows the activities of the killer/sociopath...and not just any sociopath, but a sociopath who by all appearance gets along well with others, has a pathological eye for detail, and is characterized by an obsessive nature.… (more)

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» See also 94 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Classic noir, classic psychological thriller. We meet the protagonist as he stalks a lone woman taking the bus home from work, then learn that a serial killer is terrorizing post-war Los Angeles. Dix is just out of the Army, at loose ends, living in a buddy's apartment while he tries to write the great American novel. He reconnects with an old Army buddy who is now a cop investigating the murder. How interesting for Dix! He also meets Laurel, an aspiring singer and mysterious femme fatal.

It's 70 years old but holds up well. Probably one of the first to tell a story from the POV of the killer. It was republished by The Feminist Press at the City University of New York and there's an intro discussing the way the women have more agency than usual and how the book depicts toxic masculinity, years ahead of its time. Well worth reading. ( )
  piemouth | Jun 14, 2018 |
Dark like a city in blackout, hard and sharp like gun metal and knife blades, this is a pure 1940s noir lost classic of crime fiction, but also a before-it's-time oddity: an examination of evil from it's point of view that seems influential of later "mind of a killer" books like Highsmith's Talented Mr. Ripley, Thompson's Killer Inside Me, Suskind's Perfume, and Harris' Hannibal. ( )
  Chamblyman | May 20, 2018 |
Dark like a city in blackout, hard and sharp like gun metal and knife blades, this is a pure 1940s noir lost classic of crime fiction, but also a before-it's-time oddity: an examination of evil from it's point of view that seems influential of later "mind of a killer" books like Highsmith's Talented Mr. Ripley, Thompson's Killer Inside Me, Suskind's Perfume, and Harris' Hannibal. ( )
1 vote Chamblyman | May 20, 2018 |
When the book opens, Dix is stalking a young woman who has just gotten off a bus at dusk and is walking home. Nothing comes of it, but we learn that a serial killer is strangling the young women of Los Angeles.

Dix is just back from WW II and at loose ends. He receives a small stipend from an uncle and is supposed to be writing a book. He lives in a nice apartment that belongs to Mel, a friend who suddenly took off for Brazil. He drives Mel's car and wears Mel's clothes.

When Dix reconnects with an old army buddy, Brub, he is surprised to learn that Brub is now married to Sylvia, and that Brud is now a detective on the LAPD. Not only that, Brub is also on the team trying to catch the serial killer. Dix also becomes entangled with a redheaded femme fatale named Laurel.

This is pure noir, in the tradition of James Cain, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson. Moreover, Dix is a worthy predecessor to Patricia Highsmith's Ripley, although I think Dix lacks some of the characteristics that can make some readers feel sympathetic toward Ripley.

Most of the novel is narrated from the pov of Dix, although the gorier parts are left to the imagination, and occur in the breaks between chapters. The book distinguishes itself from other noir novels of this period in that the females play important roles in solving the crime and in that it is explicit in making the connection between misogyny and violence towards women.

This was one of the first novels to be narrated from the pov of a serial killer, and I will say it has held up well over the 70+ years since it was first published.


3 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Apr 25, 2018 |
In a Lonely Place is terrific, psychological noir. Written in 1947, it depicts post war Los Angeles as a lonely place with fog shrouded canyons and people trying to make it big. The novel is told from the point-of-view of Dix Steele, a serial murderer. Dix is posing as a writer, longing to be rich, but chafing under the meager support of his uncle. He Is living in the house, wearing the clothes and driving the car of the rich Mel Terres who he explains has moved to Rio. Recognizing something of themselves in each other Dix and the beautiful, enigmatic Laurel Gray become involved. Laurel, once married to a rich man and possibly involved with Mel Terres, now despises the rich and is an aspiring actress. Because Dix is an unreliable narrator, it is unclear until the end whether he has deceived the police or evidence is mounting against him. Ultimately his downfall is not the tough, dogged and laconic tough guy of many noir plots, but the femme fatale, Laurel, and the wife of Dix’s friend from the war now a policeman.

I discovered Hughes only recently and after reading In a Lonely Place, I can see why she is compared with Raymond Chandler for her depiction of post-war LA. ( )
1 vote jwrudn | Feb 16, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy B. Hughesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hogeland, Lisa MariaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was good standing there on the promontory overlooking the evening sea, the fog lifting itself like gauzy veils to touch his face.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553121146, Paperback)

Vintage paperback reprint. Classic mystery novel; movie tie-in edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:27 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Los Angeles in the late 1940s is a city of promise and prosperity, but not for former fighter pilot Dix Steele. To his mind nothing has come close to matching 'that feeling of power and exhilaration and freedom that came with loneness in the sky.' He prowls the foggy city night -- ­bus stops and stretches of darkened beaches and movie houses just emptying out -- seeking solitary young women. His funds are running out and his frustrations are growing. Where is the good life he was promised? Why does he always get a raw deal? Then he hooks up with his old Air Corps buddy Brub, now working for the LAPD, who just happens to be on the trail of the strangler who's been terrorizing the women of the city for months..." --… (more)

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