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Dorothy B. Hughes Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

So Blue Marble (1940) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Bamboo Blonde (1941) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Fallen Sparrow (1942) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Blackbirder (1943) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Johnnie (1944) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Delicate Ape (1945) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dread Journey (1946) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Ride the Pink Horse (1946) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Scarlet Imperial (1946) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
In a Lonely Place (1947) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Big Barbecue (1949) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Candy Kid (1950) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Davidian Report (1952) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Expendable Man (1963) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dark certainty (1971) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Erle Stanley Gardner (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Dorothy B. Hughes was a mystery and thriller author from Kansas Missouri. She was interested in writing from the age of six and immediately she could put down words on paper, she knew that writing was all she wanted to do. After graduating high school, she went to the University of Missouri from where she got her degree in journalism in 1924. She then attended Columbia University and the University of New Mexico for her post-graduate studies. For a time Dorothy worked as a journalist in New Mexico, New York, and Missouri before she revived her interest in writing fiction. Her first work was a collection of poems titled “Dark Certainty” published in 1931 that was the winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets. In 1932 she got married to Levi Allan Hughes and moved to Santa Fe as her husband was from a family that had live in the city for centuries. She wrote her first fiction novel “The So Blue Marble” in 1940 and the tough-minded characters and crisp prose garnered her much critical acclaim. It did not take long before Hollywood became aware of her success as three of her most successful thrillers; “The Fallen Sparrow,” “Ride the Pink Horse” and “In A Lonely Place” were made into movies.

Hughes was inspired by the likes of Graham Green and Eric Ambler and this is clearly evident in the tension-filled moral conundrums and chiseled sentences of her early works. Most of her detective fiction is about upper-class characters, haunted loners and outsiders involved in evil intrigues. “The So Blue Marble” her debut novel showcased Dorothy Hughes’s skills in creating a set of suspense, terror and feat in the high society environment of 20th century New York City. Full of insurmountably evil characters who are saturated with malice and menace, crisp dialogue and a fast-paced plot exploring depravity and morality, it set the stage for better things to come. Her 1942 published title “The Fallen Sparrow” was her breakout novel as it went on to be made into a movie. Hughes’s entered the list of elite crime fiction authors with the publication of “In A Lonely Place” in 1947. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, she reviewed the crime fiction genre, wrestled with its legacies, icons, and influences to hone her own style. When you got down to it no one could portray the middle-class elegance coupled with a veneer of everyday normalcy as she does. Nonetheless, in all the normalcy is the despair, guilt, desperation and crime that find their way into the lives of her characters. They see their world melting away and are left with an unforgiving and uncanny darkness that makes for a transformative reading experience.

At the peak of her career, Dorothy Hughes quit writing novels since she had many domestic responsibilities. She had to take care of her grandchildren and her mother and never found the tranquility she needed to write. From 1940 to 1979 she became a critical analyst and worked for the likes of the New York Herald-Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the Albuquerque Tribune reviewing mysteries. For her work, she was awarded the Grand Master Award by the Mystery Writers of America. She also wrote “Erle Stanley Gardner,” a critical biography of Gardner that went on to win her an Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1978. Hughes passed on in 1993 in her home in Ashland Oregon.

Dorothy B. Hughes’s debut novel “The So Blue Marble” was a combination of noir and thriller and a little bit off the wall novel. The lead is a former actress named Griselda who now works for the rich and famous of Hollywood as a fashion designer. She is back from California to take a much-deserved rest and is now staying at her estranged husband’s apartment while he is away or work. She has been in the apartment for a few days when her nightmare starts. Two identical twins that are dashing in every sense of the word walk her home one evening but then insist on invading her tranquil holiday. It is not long before she learns that Missy her younger sister is involved with the dashing twins. The two assert that the only way they are going to leave her in peace is if she gives them an important object they believe to be in her possession. It is called “The So Blue Marble” and apparently has secrets that will result in untold riches for the owner. It also has secrets pertaining to how to harness the resources of the universe such as the sun and some of the biggest inventions of lost civilizations that have been lost to time. She denies having the stone but the twins are having none of it and soon, dead bodies are all over the place as Griselda is caught in a web of terror.

“In A Lonely Place” is a novel set in a post-World War II Los Angeles. The lead is Dix Steele, a former Air Corps veteran that is facing an existential crisis. He lives on the despised but crucial allowance from his uncle that made it possible to live on the West Coast as he likes. Unable to sleep he walks on the beach then ends up in a bar, where a chance remark reminds him that Brub Nicolai his friend from the army lived in town. Brub invites him to his house in Santa Monica where he meets Sylvia the man’s wife. He soon learns that his friend Brub is now a detective for the LAPD but he is not intimidated though he lies that he is writing a novel. Dix is struck by the beauty of Sylvia but senses that she seems a little distant towards him. Leaving his new friends, he spots a lone girl waiting at a bus stop and makes his move before disappearing into the night. Later, he is invited by Sylvia to another dinner where Brubs tells him of his frustration at failing to catch a serial strangler that had struck again the previous night. But then Dix gets attracted to an intelligent femme fatale that might just be the end of him.

“The Expendable Man” deemed one of Dorothy B. Hughes’s masterpieces is the story of a young doctor named Hugh Densmore, a young doctor interning at UCLA. At the start of the novel, he is driving to a niece’s wedding and had to cross the New Mexico desert. He had never been one to pick up hitchhikers but when he sees a young girl stranded by the side of the road he picks up out of pity. This imprudent though innocent act results in him being the lead suspect in a murder. Hugh is a well behaved and upright young man though he seems too scrupulous and overly concerned about affronts to his dignity and with appearances, which makes it hard for anyone to like him. However, the author introduces a few facts about the character as the story progresses which forces the reader to look at his dilemma and the character in a new light. It is an opportunity to reevaluate the preconceptions and assumptions and to analyze the facts in the case brought against the lead and indeed look at the American society from a different viewpoint.

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