Ask a bookseller

Ask a Bookseller: Dorothy Hughes’ classic noir fiction

Sarah Brown of Zenith Bookstore in Duluth recommends that fans of literary fiction, mystery, and noir search out the work of Dorothy Hughes, whose crime novels were mostly published in the 1940s and early 50s. After falling out of print, her work has seen a resurgence in recent years.

Dark mystery book cover
"In a Lonely Place" was one of the three novels written by Dorothy Hughes that were later made into films.
Penguin Random House

Hughes published 14 crime and detective novels, and she also worked as a professional crime-fiction reviewer, so she knew her genre well.

Her work teems with unreliable narrators, settings that feel like characters, and surprising plot twists--key elements of modern mysteries now. Three of Hughes' novels were made into films: "In a Lonely Place" starring Humphrey Bogart, "The Fallen Sparrow," and "Ride the Pink Horse."

"I always kind of joke that there would be no "Gone Girl" or "Girl on the Train," or any of these without Dorothy Hughes first writing her books," say Brown. She says it feels like finding a lost treasure seeing Hughes’ work re-emerge.

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