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Ride the Pink Horse
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Buddy Reads > Ride the Pink Horse (Aug/Sept 2020)

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message 1: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited May 24, 2020 09:00AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elizabeth (Alaska) Ride the Pink Horse is by the American author Dorothy B. Hughes. She wrote in the mystery/crime genre. Her novels are dark and definitely noir, although perhaps not what we think of as classic noir.

During Fiesta, three desperate men converge in a perilous New Mexico town

It takes four days for Sailor to travel to New Mexico by bus. He arrives broke, sweaty, and ready to get what’s his. It’s the annual Fiesta, and the locals burn an effigy of Zozobra so that their troubles follow the mythical character into the fire. But for former senator Willis Douglass, trouble is just beginning.

Sailor was Willis’s personal secretary when his wife died in an apparent robbery-gone-wrong. Only Sailor knows it was Willis who ordered her murder, and he’s agreed to keep his mouth shut in exchange for a little bit of cash. On Sailor’s tail is a cop who wants the senator for more than a payoff. As Fiesta rages on, these three men will circle one another in a dance of death, as they chase truth, money, and revenge.





Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
Thank you for suggesting this one and setting up the thread, Elizabeth - the discussion is now open. Who is reading this one?

I have now finished it and enjoyed the noir prose style and found the character of Sailor interesting. At the start I did get a bit fed up with the amount of time Sailor spends trying to find a room during Fiesta, which gets rather repetitive, but the atmosphere of the New Mexico town is powerfully drawn.

There is quite a lot of stereotyping of the local residents early on, but I do think this is questioned as the story moves on.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
Elizabeth, those are really striking cover images. I find it a bit surprising that two have picked out women, although the book mainly focuses on the men, but they are definitely memorable covers.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I'm just halfway. I'm sorry that I'm not fully ready to discuss, as I've always made an issue of being ready when the discussion opens. Being only halfway, I'm also surprised about the women on the covers.


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 615 comments I really liked this a lot. I think Hughes really captured the atmosphere of the time and place. I felt I was inside Sailor's head as he described his feelings about various characters and places.


message 6: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Aug 16, 2020 01:44AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elizabeth (Alaska) I finished this. Still have my review to write, but wanted to share a thought or two.

The setting was so well done. I have been in (or at least through) small towns of the desert southwest. I could see this place so easily, I hope you could too. I also thought her dialog by Pancho was pitch perfect and I could "hear" the accent. Pila, as an Indian, wasn't quite so good, but still different.

The attitude that Indians aren't as good as Mexicans is, unfortunately, still widespread. Please note my use of the word attitude - I don't feel that way, but it is very prevalent. Minorities who feel discriminated against will have another group to look down upon and Indians are that group. (I could add that there are members of some Indian tribes who look down upon Indians of a different tribe.)


Elizabeth (Alaska) I managed to put a few words into a review. The other thing is that this is a good and fairly complete characterization of Sailor. Should I have anticipated the ending? I did not.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
I think this older cover perhaps has more of the small-town noir feel of the book than the newer covers:




Elizabeth (Alaska) Much better cover, Judy.

What did you think of Hughes' writing style?


message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
I found the writing style a bit uneven, and overall for me not quite up there with other noir writers like Raymond Chandler. But I thought some sections were very well written - there are some great descriptions of life in the border town and the parts where Sailor starts to think about his childhood and what has gone wrong with his life are poignantly written.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I think Raymond Chandler is a high standard. While I have not read all of his offering, what I have read is detective fiction. I think I want to read more of him.


message 12: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9330 comments Mod
I absolutely adore Chandler's Marlowe novels - the best hardboiled fiction I've read. If anyone feels there's a better writer in the genre then I'd be very interested to learn more.


message 13: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
I keep meaning to go back to Chandler - I read a few of his books years ago and I think his style is great. I would say that Dashiell Hammett has a similar style and is very good too - I also think of Ernest Hemingway as having something of a hardboiled style although not writing within the crime genre.

But I haven't really read much hardboiled fiction, so would also be interested to hear if anyone has found someone who rivals Chandler.


message 14: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "I managed to put a few words into a review. The other thing is that this is a good and fairly complete characterization of Sailor. Should I have anticipated the ending? I did not."

Good review, Elizabeth. I didn't anticipate the ending either and was a bit taken aback. Is anyone still reading this, or planning to? I was wondering if we could get into discussing the later stages.


message 15: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Aug 19, 2020 01:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elizabeth (Alaska) Judy wrote: "But I haven't really read much hardboiled fiction, so would also be interested to hear if anyone has found someone who rivals Chandler."

It's been several years since I read Chandler. The cadence of his writing is, for me, what makes him compelling. In telling some friends about a novel recently, I used the same description of the writing. That novel was Laura. (My review.)

Authors have different writing styles, have different stories to tell. I think it's hard to compare Hughes with Chandler and think she is more like Georges Simenon and his roman durs.


message 16: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 615 comments Yes I think I was thinking more of the Maltese Falcon than Chandler. I was surprised by the ending, as although Sailor was a gangster, I did him as someone who wasn't completely bad. I liked the way he didn't want Pila to throw her self respect away like the friends of hers.


message 17: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Aug 19, 2020 02:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elizabeth (Alaska) Jill wrote: "I liked the way he didn't want Pila to throw her self respect away like the friends of hers."

Yes, this was very good. And, although he couldn't be bothered to remember Pancho's real name, he accorded him more respect than the Sen, because Pancho was honest. It seems Sailor knew deeply within himself that his own way wasn't the best, while trying to convince his ownself otherwise.


message 18: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
Interesting that the author picked out the pink horse incident for her title, putting the focus on Pila - I feel it's a key moment in the novel, as a point where Sailor thinks of someone else and momentarily steps back from the way of life he has drifted into.


Elizabeth (Alaska) It is the innocence of that life that Sailor didn't get in his own. I rarely see symbolism in novels ...


message 20: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "And, although he couldn't be bothered to remember Pancho's real name, he accorded him more respect than the Sen..."

Just struck me reading this that he has his own names for both of them, the Sen and Pancho - I suppose representing what they are to him. By saying "the Sen" I feel the character is distanced compared to if he had used his name. Of course, Sailor is also a nickname - I'm not sure if we ever learn his real name?


message 21: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Aug 20, 2020 01:14PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elizabeth (Alaska) No, Sailor is all we know. But the Sen is just short for the Senator. That didn't seem unreasonable to me, as that is how he would have been referred to while in office. "The Senator will see you now" for someone who has an appointment, for example. Sailor and other employees would undoubtedly have shortened it to the Sen.


message 22: by Val (new)

Val | 1710 comments I have a library reservation on this one, but it was in the county store which has only just reopened. I quite like a bit of noir occasionally, so I am looking forward to it.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Yay, Val! I do hope you like this and enough you'll want to read more by Dorothy B. Hughes.


message 24: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 615 comments I have both the Griselda Satterlee books, so think I will give the first of those s try.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Jill wrote: "I have both the Griselda Satterlee books, so think I will give the first of those s try."

I have read The So Blue Marble, which was her debut. I do not have the next Satterlee. The first I read by her was In a Lonely Place. Though I see I rated it only 4-stars, I still have mental pictures of that novel and it made me a fan.


message 26: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
I just said this when Hughes was mentioned in another group, so thought I'd copy the comment over here too:

I would be interested to see the film of Ride a Pink Horse, which stars Robert Montgomery as Sailor, but it doesn't seem to be available on streaming or DVD in the UK - maybe it will turn up on TV some time.


message 27: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "No, Sailor is all we know. But the Sen is just short for the Senator. That didn't seem unreasonable to me, as that is how he would have been referred to while in office. "The Senator will see you n..."

Thanks for confirming that, Elizabeth - I wasn't sure if I had missed a first name for Sailor in one of the flashbacks to his childhood.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Also mentioned over there was your reference to Bogart in Hughes' In a Lonely Place. You all have seen me say that I am not a movie fan. While it's still highly unlikely that I will turn in that direction, this Bogart is a rare one that I would consider spending the time watching.


message 29: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
I thought the film of In a Lonely Place was great, Elizabeth, so if you do see it I hope you enjoy it too. I also recently saw the film of Laura by Vera Caspary which you mentioned earlier in the thread, and I also really liked that one. I will hope to read the book in the future.


message 30: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
Hope you enjoy the book, Val - I'll be interested to hear what you think.


message 31: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9330 comments Mod
In the latest episode of the Backlisted podcast they discuss...


In a Lonely Place (1947) by Dorothy B. Hughes...

https://www.backlisted.fm/episodes/14...

Returning to Backlisted this week are literary agents Becky Brown and Norah Perkins, joint custodians of the Curtis Brown Heritage list of literary estates and previously our guests on episode #109, Excellent Women by Barbara Pym.

We are discussing the work of crime novelist Dorothy B. Hughes and in particular her suspenseful and subversive novel In a Lonely Place (1947), freely adapted as a classic film noir by director Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame.

Also in this episode Norah and Becky pitch titles by Kay Dick, Stella Gibbons and R.C. Sherriff to Andy, John and Nicky. Make sure you have a pen and paper to hand...

Books mentioned:

Dorothy B. Hughes - In a Lonely Place; The Expendable Man; Ride the Pink Horse; Dread Journey
Kay Dick - They: A Sequence of Unease
Stella Gibbons - Starlight
Barbara Comyns - The Vet’s Daughter
Nina Hammett - Twisted Torso
R.C. Sherriff - The Fortnight in September; The Hopkins Manuscript
Philip Larkin - The Whitsun Weddings
Douglas Adams - Last Chance to See (audio version)
Jim Thompson - The Killer Inside Me
David Goodis - Nightfall
Donald Henderson - Mr Bowling Buys a Newspaper
Patricia Highsmith - Deep Water
James M. Cain - The Postman Always Rings Twice





message 32: by Alwynne (new)

Alwynne | 1282 comments Nigeyb wrote: "In the latest episode of the Backlisted podcast they discuss...


In a Lonely Place (1947) by Dorothy B. Hughes...

https://www.backlisted.fm/episodes/14......"


Thanks Nigey was really impressed by 'In a Lonely Place' and it has a marvellous feminist sting in its tail.


message 33: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9330 comments Mod
Thanks Alwynne. It sounds unmissable. I'm going to have to read it - and Ride the Pink Horse

I've already got a copy of In a Lonely Place if anyone fancies a buddy read?

It's currently a mere £3.99 for Kindle in the UK


message 34: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 4857 comments Mod
I read In a Lonely Place a few months back - you do know that the protagonist is named Dix Steele? ;)) So yes, gender issues ahoy!


message 35: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9330 comments Mod
Oo er


message 36: by Alwynne (last edited Jul 05, 2021 03:01PM) (new)

Alwynne | 1282 comments Roman Clodia wrote: "I read In a Lonely Place a few months back - you do know that the protagonist is named Dix Steele? ;)) So yes, gender issues ahoy!"

I think I enjoyed this more than you did though, but I'm a huge fan of that kind of noir. There are a few writers on Nigey's list I'm keen on Thompson, Cain in particular also love Himes and Chandler.


message 37: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9330 comments Mod
Me too Alwynne although you are better read than me and I have now appointed you our official go-to Noir specialist. Congratulations. I plan to read some Thompson this year and have recently finished all the Chandlers, which took years.


message 38: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
I haven't read In a Lonely Place but the film is great. I'm intrigued by the selection of books for the podcast - will give it a listen.


message 39: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 4857 comments Mod
Alwynne wrote: "I think I enjoyed this more than you did"

Yes, I think I expected to enjoy noir more than I actually do - the couple of Chandlers I've read were good but I'm not the greatest fan of the writing style (sacrilege, I know!) or the head-spinning plots. I like the sub-texts of Marlowe as the knightly good man in a bad world, and the exposé of the 'American Dream' in Cain's Postman, and the genre's engagements with class, gender, race - but somehow it all adds up to slightly less than I hope.

That said, I'd like to try Vera Caspary, maybe her Laura - have you (or anyone?) read it?


message 40: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9330 comments Mod
I listened to about half of the podcast until they announced the warning that it's impossible to discuss In a Lonely Place without discussing spoilers. So I'll finish it off once I have read the book. The promise of being able to listen to the rest of the podcast will I hope spur me on to get it read sooner rather than later. I'll add a post when I get to In a Lonely Place.


message 41: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9330 comments Mod
Breaking news. We now have a dedicated discussion/celebration thread for Dorothy B. Hughes...


https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 42: by Pam (new) - added it

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 97 comments I just found this thread, 1 year late! Since I live in New Mexico, I thought I’d read it. I’m only 3 chapters in but my first thought was that it’s not set in a hick border town but rather NM’s capital Santa Fe. La Fonda Hotel and the annual Burning of Zozobra are both in Santa Fe. I liked that Pancho corrected Sailor, telling him, “This is not a Mexican town. This is an American town.” And, “Now we are all one, the Spanish and the Indians and the Gringo.” True!


message 43: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9330 comments Mod
Great news Pam. Looking forward to your reaction. I'm definitely going to be another latecomer to this particular party as I am currently loving In a Lonely Place


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