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In a Lonely Place

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,970 ratings  ·  383 reviews
Postwar Los Angeles is a lonely place where the American Dream is showing its seamy underside—and a stranger is preying on young women. The suggestively named Dix Steele, a cynical vet with a chip on his shoulder about the opposite sex, is the LAPD's top suspect. Dix knows enough to watch his step, especially since his best friend is on the force, but when he meets the lus ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 1st 2003 by The Feminist Press at CUNY (first published 1947)
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,970 ratings  ·  383 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
“Once he’d had happiness but for so brief a time; happiness was made of quicksilver, it ran out of your hand like quicksilver. There was the heat of tears suddenly in his eyes and he shook his head angrily. He would not think about it, he would never think of that again. It was long ago in an ancient past. To hell with happiness. More important was excitement and power and the hot stir of lust. Those made you forget. They made happiness a pink marshmallow.”

 photo dorothy-b-hughes_zps69c4df97.jpg
Dorothy B. Hughes

I’d known Dix Steele
...more
Kemper
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you were a single gal living in post-war Los Angeles you’d probably find Dix Steele absolutely dreamy. After all, he’s a big handsome fella who dresses well and likes to dine out in swell places. He was a fighter pilot in the war, and now he’s working on writing a mystery novel so he’s certainly leading a colorful and interesting life. Just one problem. About once a month he feels a compulsion to strangle a strange woman to death.

Oh, well. Nobody’s perfect, right?

We spend the entire book in D
...more
Michael
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: unjustly-obscure
Read this on the way to LA recently, because that's where the book is set. This is first-class noir. What truly sets it apart is the prose style: so elegant and sculpted. The author's first book was a book of poetry in the Yale Young Poets series, and I can say I wasn't surprised at all. I delighted in these sentences. Hughes really ought to be better known, as she more than holds her own against Chandler and Hammett.
Toby
Mar 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
This novel from Dorothy Hughes, a portrait of a sociopath in post-WWII Los Angeles, was very loosely adapted in to the under-appreciated noir classic movie directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame.



Notice my use of the word loosely. If you've only ever seen the movie then you only have a vague idea of what this novel is about and probably even less idea of what happens.

This is the story of Dickson Steele, heir to a fortune who was forced to work his way through Pri
...more
Melki
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
There wasn't any girl worth getting upset over. They were all alike, cheats, liars, whores. There'd only been one decent one among them and she was dead.

His name is Dix Steele. He's young and handsome, a real lady-killer, possibly in every sense of the word. He has very structured ideas about how women should behave. He's fond of women who wait alone in dark, lonely places. There's this one woman in particular who reminds him of a girl he used to know back in England...he'd definitely like to ge
...more
Nancy Oakes
First the bottom line: I loved this novel. It reads like something from Patricia Highsmith, with its focus on exploring the mind of a sociopath, but actually predates Highsmith's first novel by three years or so.

Second, re the film: book and movie are really two very different entities, so I can understand how, if someone sees the film first and then reads the book, disappointment might set in. The same is true vice versa -- I read the novel first and expected something much different than I go
...more
Hadrian
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Above-average noir fiction with a surprise twist. (Not the same twist as the Bogart movie!)
Jessica
It is absolutely criminal that this amazing book has ever gone out of print.

National treasure Hughes's The Expendable Man might have maintained its social relevance better, but this is the finer book. Fans of Chandler and other vintage crime will slurp this down, and it's worth reading for its description of forties Los Angeles alone, even without all the rest.

But the rest...! Dix Steele makes all other characters from that era's so-called hardboiled fiction look like pantywaist pussies. This bo
...more
Mariel
Jul 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: power and excitement and rhythm
Recommended to Mariel by: hungry sea
He fled from the goodness of that home, and his hatred for Laurel throttled his brain. If she had come back to him, he would not be shut out, an outcast in a strange, cold world. He would have been safe in the bright warmth of her.

Dix Steele would cast himself in the starring role. It is a movie, a tale of heroes. It is a world gone wrong and on his masculine shoulders to right everything in place. Chalk outline of an angry little boy throwing a tantrum on the ground. Real blood and smoke dreams
...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
[7/10]
For a change, instead of following a hard boiled private eye along the mean streets of the big city, we get inside the head of the criminal and follow his twisted rationale , his torturous train of thought that leads to a series of murders of innocent women in Los Angeles, close after the end of WW II.

With the identity of the culprit more or less revealed in the opening chapter, there was a certain lack of tension and a predictability that limited my involvement in what is definitely a wel
...more
Fiona
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fear wasn't a jagged split of light cleaving you; fear wasn't a cold fist in your entrails; fear wasn't something you could face and demolish with your arrogance. Fear was the fog, creeping about you, winding its tendrils about you, seeping into your pores and flesh and bone. Fear was a girl whispering a word over and again, a small word you refused to hear although the whisper was a scream in your ears, a dreadful scream you could never forget.

Dorothy Hughes has done something quite spectacular
...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, noir
In an introduction to a collection of his mystery stories,Isaac Asimov dismisses the sort of mystery novel in which we know who the killer is all along as a sort of wallowing in pathological psychology. He himself wrote mysteries in what he, somewhat self-servingly, called the traditional mode - puzzle stories that were far removed from the actual scene of any crime and had various conundrums presented and solved during the course of polite dinner-table chat.

The implication was that a novel lik
...more
Tony
This is not a whodunit. We know rather quickly who is strangling women in Post-WWII Los Angeles. And we get the why of it soon, too. What intrigues, instead, is how the crimes will be solved, and who will do the solving.

The events are revealed through the third-person eyes of the killer. But I didn't find him very interesting, his psychopathology too obvious. Instead, I liked the subtle ways four other characters are defined, and how little bits of dialogue may or may not indicate that they are
...more
classic reverie
I decided on reading Dorothy B. Hughes's In a Lonely Place, this year after hearing from Cassio, a Goodreads friend, recommending it and thinking it was something I would enjoy. He was right! 😊 I enjoyed this 1947 noir book.

It took me longer then I expected to read this shorter novel because when I read it, I wanted to be in a total wake state and not miss anything. There are stories that one needs not their whole facilities but for me this was not such a novel. It is told by Dickson (Dix) Steel
...more
Michael
Post World War II Los Angeles, the place you go to find the great American dream, but a stranger is preying on young women. Ex-airman, Dix Steele offers to help his detective friend solve the case and catch the serial killer in the hopes it will help him with the crime novel he is writing. Along the way he meets the luscious Laurel Gray—the femme fatale. The queen of noir, Dorothy B. Hughes blends psychological suspense with conventional Hard-boiled and Noir styles to give us In a Lonely Place.

D
...more
George K.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-mystery
Βαθμολογία: 9/10

Το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο της Ντόροθι Μπ. Χιουζ το έβρισκα συνεχώς μπροστά μου, στις διάφορες λίστες με τα καλύτερα νουάρ όλων των εποχών και ήταν ένα από τα κάμποσα κλασικά και πολυσυζητημένα βιβλία του είδους που κανείς Έλληνας εκδότης δεν είχε μπει στον κόπο να το φέρει στην χώρα μας. Ήταν ένα από τα βιβλία που είχα σκοπό να αγοράσω και να διαβάσω κάποια στιγμή στ'αγγλικά, γιατί είχα μπουχτίσει. Να, όμως, που οι εκδόσεις Μίνωας μου/μας έκαναν την χάρη και το βιβλίο μπορεί να το α
...more
Cassio Queiros
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
"One of the best portraits of a psychopathic killer in American crime fiction" (Marcia Muller)
The crime writer Marcia Muller, wife of Bill Pronzini, is absolutely right.
This is a classic noir book, a disturbing and gripping novel, told entirely from the killer's viewpoint.
David
Oct 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
If Mickey Spillane had named one of his heroes "Dix Steele," it would leave me shaking my head and rolling my eyes, but when Dorothy B. Hughes gives the name to a serial rapist and killer, I nod and smile. Hughes can get away with this name because everything else in In a Lonely Place is so restrained. Dix Steele is so scary because he seems so ordinary--which is, of course, why sociopaths are so dangerous: Inwardly they have no conscience, while outwardly they seem the same as you or I. Many of ...more
Jaksen
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Amazing crime noir novel ....

A serial killer is killing young women. One of the detectives investigating is stymied. The detective's wife is beautiful and bold. So is another woman, determined to live her life the way she wants, sleep with whom she wants and well, this is so not the way I usually think of 1947.

(I should know better. My mother was a young woman in 1947 and she lived the way she wanted, too. Bright, bold, opinionated and 'nobody's fool' type women run in my blood, and so...)

The st
...more
Col
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: h, 2013
Synopsis/blurb.........
Dix Steele is back in town, and 'town' is post-war LA. His best friend Brub is on the force of the LAPD, and as the two meet in country clubs and beach bars, they discuss the latest case: a strangler is preying on young women in the dark. Dix listens with interest as Brub describes their top suspect, as yet unnamed. Dix loves the dark and women in equal measure, so he knows enough to watch his step, though when he meets the luscious Laurel Gray, something begins to crack.
...more
Carla Remy
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This should have been a story or a novella. The plot isn't built on suspense, and it becomes tiresome being long. It's spectacularly cool that a woman was writing books in the "noir vein" in the 1940s. How did I not know about her until this year? From a killer's perspective, this seems to be looking toward the future...it precedes Ripley by several years, preceding American Psycho by some 40 years. There's maybe a murderous main character I don't know about or am forgetting? The best thing is, ...more
James
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
Charming and flawed in the way those crime films from the 40s are. Sure it seems a little clicheed, the plot twists are well signposted, but gosh does it have atmosphere in spades. Dix Steele (my most absolutely funny character name of 2017, nascent porn actors would reject the name as too much) is a troubled young man with a silly name adrift in LA, the plot unfolds majestically. Much to savour.
Ben Loory
Apr 07, 2012 rated it liked it
it's nice to read a pulp crime novel that is very much its own thing, no visible influence from chandler or hammett or cain or any of the usual suspects (though i do get a faulkner vibe). hughes writes slowly and twistingly, with lots of unknowns and atmosphere; it's a very lonely book, not so much exciting as tense and doomed and sad. it's also mean as hell since it's from the killer's pov and he's not the kinda guy who pulls punches.

Her name was Mildred Atkinson and she had led a very stupid
...more
Ginny
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first detective genre story I've read in a very long time. I read way to many of them throughout my life, and now find them tedious and stale. This writer is very different. She puts the reader into the head of a serial killer in a truly terrifying way, before the term was invented. He is deeply misogynist, but he is a deranged killer, so his opinions about women are also deranged. Everything the reader sees and hears is from his point of view. The threads are never dropped, the poin ...more
Jennifer
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This little novel had me on the edge of my seat, while trying to crawl out of Dix Steele's head at the same time. Frankly I am shocked that this was published back in the late 40's. It was well written and hard to put down, even though Dix was a creepy bastard. It took me back to another time, where we all wore nice clothes, the ladies were all so pretty and the men dashing and charismatic. I too wanted to light up a fancy cigarette and go out dancing for an evening. That being said, this is a d ...more
Eric_W
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith. Dix Steele is an ex-Army fighter jock living in Los Angeles and surviving nicely on a monthly check from his uncle. He's living in the apartment, wearing the clothes and driving the car of Mel Torries who has supposedly sublet everything to him and taken off for Rio. One evening he accidentally bumps into his best friend from the war, another fighter pilot, married to Sylvia, who is now a detective with the police force. There has been a series of women strangl ...more
Writer's Relief
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Toxic masculinity” wasn’t a culturally prominent term in post-World War II America. But Dorothy B. Hughes' chilling 1947 novel "In a Lonely Place" is one of the earliest and most frightening depictions of it.

Film buffs may have seen the classic film of the same title starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. While the film takes many elements of Hughes’ story (and is excellent on its own terms), the novel tells a much darker tale. The book follows Dixon Steele, a serial killer of young women
...more
Franky
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, noir, crime
Dorothy Hughes offers a different perspective in her noir novel In a Lonely Place. Using an outside point of view, she still manages to take you inside the head of Dix Steele, a strangler who preys on unsuspecting women and becomes the focus of a manhunt. We follow his path and see that he does and thinks, so his unstableness becomes evident from the get go. In this way, Hughes creates not only an impressive crime novel, but the character study of a killer’s downward spiral.

Gone are the jabs an
...more
Greg
Book 22: Mid-20th Century American Crime Readathon
In post-WW2 America, there are many soldiers 'in a lonely place':
Hook=3 stars: It's a foggy night and a man out for a walk "sees a girl and he didn't follow her at once." Creepy? Yep!
Pace=3: Kirkus Reviews called this one "hardly holding," and that's exactly right as Hughes delivers a slow build.
Plot=3: A serial killer is lose in Los Angeles.
People=4: Dix Steele is our narrator, his POV is off from the start. He is lost and suffering from what we
...more
Laura
Great book and a movie was made based on this book.

3* The Fallen Sparrow
4* In a Lonely Place
TR The Expendable Man
TR The So Blue Marble
TR Ride the Pink Horse
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Classic Trash: In a Lonely Place: Finished (Spoilers) 5 9 Sep 18, 2017 10:20AM  
Classic Trash: In a Lonely Place: In Progress (No Spoilers) 7 5 Sep 08, 2017 09:09PM  
Women's Classic L...: In a Lonely Place (Spoilers Included) 44 20 Sep 02, 2017 05:57PM  
Women's Classic L...: Dorothy B. Hughes 10 14 Aug 26, 2017 07:32PM  
Women's Classic L...: In a Lonely Place (NO SPOILERS!) 4 10 Aug 24, 2017 06:26PM  
Women's Classic L...: Schedule 11 13 Aug 15, 2017 01:52PM  
NYRB Classics: In a Lonely Place, by Dorothy B. Hughes 3 24 Jun 02, 2017 12:39PM  
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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
“I was born when you kissed me. I died when you left me. I lived a few weeks while you loved me.” 128 likes
“I was born when he kissed me, I died when he left me, I lived a few weeks while he loved me” 25 likes
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