RE: Re: RARA-AVIS: Dorothy B. Hughes Month

Date: 04 May 2001

On Thu, 3 May 2001 22:20:12 -0700 (PDT) you wrote:

> would make the best first Hughes to read?>>
> The Fallen Sparrow is my favorite. Not strictly hardboiled,

I would affirm Mario's recommendation here. The So-Blue Marble is still very much in the Buchan (39 Steps) tradition, though the assassin twins (as I remember) have the polish of Eric Ambler at his best. Believe Hughes dedicated one or more of her early fictions to Ambler. The Fallen Sparrow is where she makes a move to a tough male protagonist (away from ingenu characters), who has psychic wounds (imprisoned in Spain) and returns to find who murdered his friend. It still has Ambler qualities, but a much darker tone and (I think) a very satisfactory ending. After Sparrow, I would recommend, in order of publication, Ride the Pink Horse (very powerful), In a Lonely Place, and possibly The Expendible Man--though I haven't finished that one yet. The Davidian Report is disappointing, to my reading, as a throw-back to her earlier spy-thriller fiction.

And, yes, In a Lonely Place was softened by Ray, with Bogart playing an established scriptwriter who has uncontrollable anger and is under suspicion. As I remember, the protagonist in Hughes' novel only claims to be a writer.

Bill Hagen

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