Monday, July 9, 2012

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter H


I have signed up for a second year of The Alphabet in Crime Fiction, a community meme sponsored by Mysteries in Paradise. Each week she'll be expecting participants to produce a post featuring a mystery/crime novel or novelist related to that week's letter. 

We are about a third of the way through the alphabet and ready this week for the letter H.  H could be for Homicide or Hooligan or Holmes or Hound of the Baskervilles.  But I've decided that H is for Hughes--Dorothy B. Hughes to be exact.
Dorothy B. Hughes was an American crime writer and literary critic whose work was prominent in the '40s and '50s.  She was named a Grand Master in 1978 by the Mystery Writers of America and received two Edgar awards--one as a critic of the genre and the other for her biography of Erle Stanley Gardner.  Her fourteen detective novels are pretty much of the hardboiled or noir variety and Wikipedia claims that she is best known for her books In a Lonely Place and Ride the Pink Horse.  Perhaps this is because both these novels (as well as The Fallen Sparrow) were later filmed  However, she's best known to me for penning her first crime novel, The So Blue Marble.  That is the book that I've seen mentioned over and over in various mystery and detective reference books. And it is also the one of the books that I have read this year for my Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge. 

In short, The So Blue Marble tells about a young woman who is pursued both mercenaries and representatives of the government who wish to relieve her of possession of a blue marble that is supposed to possess powerful qualities.  The mercenaries leave a trail of murders in their wake in an effort to frighten Griselda into cooperating with them.  She is afraid to trust anyone and fears that harm will come to her estranged husband no matter what she does.  For my full review, please click on the title above.

Hughes' style is a little bit out of my comfort zone--I'm not generally a fan of hardboiled/noir--but I did enjoy the Marble and I have another of her books sitting among my pocket-size editions.  I will look forward to giving The Bamboo Blonde a try sometime in the future.

7 comments:

TracyK said...

Enjoyed your overview of Dorothy B. Hughes. I had read your review of the So Blue Marble back in March. I love that title and I have two old paperbacks with great covers. I have three of her mysteries and plan to read at least one for the Vintage Challenge. Possibly I did not read her books when I was younger because at that time I was less into hard-boiled mysteries.

Peter Reynard said...

As a big fan of Erle Stanley Gardner, I have to dig up this biography and read it. And The So Blue Marble as well. Thanks for the heads up.

Peggy Ann said...

This does sound good, Bev. I like the title and the book cover. Reminds a little of the movie A Shot in the Dark.

Man of la Book said...

I've never heard of Dorothy B. Hughes, thanks for bringing her to my attention.

http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

Clarissa Draper said...

Haven't heard of her either. But, love the sound of that story.

Margot Kinberg said...

Bev - Thanks for reminding me of Hughes. I confess I'm not nearly familiar enough with her work. I need to remedy that. Soon.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Thanks Bev, really enjoyed this post on an author that I would not normally have thought would have been your cup of java. I think I have also only read those books that were filmed - IN A LONELY PLACE in particular I liked a great detail in both versions, though the book has a very different ending from the film.