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The Fallen Sparrow

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  62 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
For more than a year, Kit McKittrick languishes in a Fascist prison, his days spent in darkness and his nights tortured by fear of his limping jailer, whose name he never learns. He escapes Spain with the help of Louie Lepetino, a childhood friend who came with him to fight on behalf of the Republican cause. Back in the United States, Kit heads out West to recover from his ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published October 1st 1988 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published 1942)
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Bill  Kerwin

I’m looking for the first great book written by Dorothy B. Hughes, the mid-century writer and critic who is often called “the queen of noir." I just finished reading The Fallen Sparrow (1942)...and I guess I’ll have to go on looking.

It’s not a bad book, really. It is certainly better than the two earlier Hughes’ efforts I have read, The So Blue Marble and The Bamboo Blonde. It has much of the same sinister atmosphere and serviceable plot—conspiratorial spy-types rummaging around for a mcguffin—a
This book is pretty bonkers. Any attempt to read its plot straight, as a realistic thriller or crime story, is doomed to annoyed frustration; as long as you know it's supposed to be bonkers, it's pretty fun. A glamorous nightclub singer, creepy foreign musician, wheelchair-bound foreign scientist, shadowy Nazis, sexy but unknowable femme who may or may not be fatale, a glossy heiress, a superannuated hooker who runs a hat shop that's too classy to put hats in its windows, various Park Avenue par ...more
Bill FromPA
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noir, 1940s
An excellent WWII era spy thriller, reminiscent of Rogue Male and Hitchcock's Saboteur. Nazi agents mix with Manhattan high society in an attempt to learn the location of an ancient treasure from an American escapee from a Fascist Spanish prison. Hard to put down.

Unknown reference: "Sister Anne was announcing the news." (pg. 171)
Nov 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Was looking forward to this as In a Lonely Place and Ride the Pink Horse were so good. I found this confusing and unsuspenseful.
Billie Raven
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Love Dorothy B. Hughes
Did not love this book.
Unbelievable and Uninteresting
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: american, crime
Best appreciated as a period piece. Written in 1942 and set in New York City, you can imagine it best as a black and white film made with contract actors, better than a B-movie but not by much. Even Humphrey Bogart made a lot of forgettable films. I'm not sorry I read it, but I'm sure that Dorothy Hughes has done better. I just happened to have it on the shelf from the days when I was collecting Dell map-back paperbacks. In this editiion, opposite the title page is the following paragraph: BOOKS ...more
Emily Crow
This is another random used-book store find, a hardboiled thriller of 1940s vintage, about a man who escapes from a two-year sojourn in a horrible Spanish prison, where he was tormented for unspecified information by a person of shuffling gait that he called "the Wobblefoot." Back in New York, while looking into the mysterious death of a childhood friend, Louie, he realizes that his European nemeses have followed him. There are also a number of good-looking "dames" in the story, all of them asso ...more
Jon Frankel
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Fallen Sparrow is more sophisticated than The So Blue Marble, though it is also an international spy story set in NYC. This one deepens the dark quite a bit. There are murders, and a McGuffin (some priceless goblets) but the protagonist is a man who was imprisoned and tortured for two years by Spanish Fascists. The gang after the goblets are a bunch of émigrés, Nazis posing as the opposite. Again New York is rendered in all its beauty, snow in streetlights, cafes and bars and night clubs, ca ...more
Feb 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I love the movie, and I really wanted to love the book, but I can't. Where the movie is a bit convoluted the book is downright confusing. I still don't grasp the why the Babylon cups were so important. At least in the film, it was the battle flags. Kit and Content were very well defined, but the rest where rather a mystery. Just how did they all connect. I don't think I'm that bad of a reader! Although I'm quite familiar with the Spanish Civil War and the International Brigade, I'm afraid the mo ...more
Karin Montin
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
(dedicated to Eric Ambler, "Because he has no book this year")

Kit McKittrick, having fought in the Spanish Civil War, is on a western ranch recovering from
his imprisonment and torture when he hears that his best friend has committed suicide. That friend, a cop, would never jump out a window, so Kit returns to Manhattan high society to investigate. He discovers that his girlfriend is palling around with Nazi spies living under assumed names. People keep getting killed. Everything revolves around
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it
I have to admit I wasn't all that eager to read this as the blurb sounded dry, boring, and done to death: Prisoner of Spanish War returns to avenge the death of the man who helped him escape.

But keep in mind this is Dorothy Hughes, and Miss Dorothy doesn't do dry or boring or done to death.

This is my favorite of hers so far--except for The Expendable Man. The pacing, the characters, the twists (and there are plenty of them!), the wordcraft--it all works.
Elizabeth Mcnair
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Another single mother police officer (actually border patrol) book. I usually can figure out the bad guy's in these books-but this one kept me guessing to the end. I did have several head scratching moments when the would interrogate witnesses and the witnesses would tell them it was "none of their business". Not sure how realistic that would be in real life-however did enjoy the book!
Just arrived from USA through BM.

Kit come back to New York in order to track down his buddy's killer. It had to be murder: Louie wasn't the suicidal type. One person stood in the way of revenge - The Wobblefoot.
Jan 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
Dorothy Hughes is a gifted crime novelist...she dedicated this book to Eric Ambler, because he didn't have one that year. she should have left well enough alone. Stick with Ride the Pink Horse and In a Lonely Place. Both are excellent.
Jan 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: north-america, noir
Murder mystery plot at the start morphs into cat-and-mouse game over a "MacGuffin."
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-detective
First Dorothy Hughes book I've read where the main character wasn't the bad guy! I love the mood of her books, and how you're never sure whether the POV is an unreliable narrator.
Rogue Reader
Dec 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Written in 1942, The Fallen Sparrow is filled with postwar intrigue and drama. A fast read with good perspectives on and descriptions of NYC, well-born and ethic characters. Justice prevails.
Jun 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Closer to 2 and a half. Okay but at a certain point was reading it just to finish it.
rated it it was ok
Jan 20, 2012
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Jan 04, 2015
Tammy Straus
rated it really liked it
Sep 13, 2015
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Sep 16, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Mar 07, 2011
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Sep 03, 2012
Dafne Orlando
rated it it was ok
Apr 15, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Aug 12, 2014
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Nov 29, 2009
rated it really liked it
Dec 06, 2007
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Aug 30, 2017
Lara Corona
rated it it was amazing
Jan 04, 2016
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Dorothy B. Hughes (1904–1993) was a mystery author and literary critic. Born in Kansas City, she studied at Columbia University, and won an award from the Yale Series of Younger Poets for her first book, the poetry collection Dark Certainty (1931). After writing several unsuccessful manuscripts, she published The So Blue Marble in 1940. A New York–based mystery, it won praise for its hardboiled pr ...more
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