Dorothy B. Hughes

Dorothy B. Hughes (10 August 1904 – 6 May 1993) was an American crime writer and literary critic. Hughes wrote fourteen crime and detective novels, primarily in the hardboiled and noir styles, and is best known for the novels In a Lonely Place (1947) and Ride the Pink Horse (1946).

Born Dorothy Belle Flanagan in Kansas City, Missouri, she studied journalism and after graduating from the University of Missouri with her B.J. degree in 1924 worked in that field in Missouri, New Mexico, and New York. She did graduate work in journalism at the University of New Mexico and at Columbia University but did not receive a degree from either institution.

Hughes’ first published book, Dark Certainty (1931) was a volume of poetry, which was the winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition.

In 1940, she published her first mystery novel The So Blue Marble followed by eight more mystery novels in the 1940s. In addition to her novels, Hughes also wrote a history of the University of New Mexico and a critical study of writer Erle Stanley Gardner. In 1951 she received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America in the category of Outstanding Mystery Criticism and in 1978 she was given the MWA's Grand Master award.

Hughes acknowledged the influence of such writers as Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, and William Faulkner.[1] Hughes’ writing style of tight and suspenseful plots that exemplified the tenets of hardboiled crime and detective novels and her literary career itself associates her with a number of other women crime writers of the 1940s and 1950s, including Margaret Millar, Vera Caspary, Elizabeth Sanxay Holding, and Olive Higgins Prouty. Hughes was quite successful at her writing and quite popular during her day. Three of her novels were made into movies: The Fallen Sparrow in 1943 starring John Garfield, In a Lonely Place in 1950 directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart, and Ride the Pink Horse in 1947 directed by and starring Robert Montgomery, which was also remade in 1964 for TV as The Hanged Man.

From 1940 to 1979 she reviewed mysteries for the Albuquerque Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Herald-Tribune and other newspapers.

Hughes made her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a city, along with the Southwest, that she used as the background for several of her novels.

Hughes died in Ashland, Oregon, from complications following a stroke.

Selected bibliography

  • Dark Certainty (1931, volume of poetry)
  • Pueblo on the Mesa: The First Fifty Years of the University of New Mexico (1939)
  • The So Blue Marble (1940, her first novel)
  • The Cross-Eyed Bear (1940) (aka The Cross-Eyed Bear Murders)
  • The Bamboo Blonde (1941)
  • The Fallen Sparrow (1942; filmed in 1943)
  • The Blackbirder (1943)
  • The Delicate Ape (1944)
  • Johnnie (1944)
  • Dread Journey (1945)
  • Ride the Pink Horse (1946; filmed in 1947; TV series Robert Montgomery Presents episode Ride the Pink Horse in 1950; remade in 1964 as The Hanged Man)
  • The Scarlet Imperial (aka Kiss for a Killer 1946)
  • In a Lonely Place (1947; filmed in 1950)
  • The Big Barbecue (1949)
  • The Candy Kid (1950; TVseries Climax episode Spider Web in 1958)
  • The Davidian Report (aka The Body on the Bench, 1952; TVseries Robert Montgomery Presents episode The Davidian Report in 1952)
  • The Expendable Man (1963) (Republished in 2006 by Persephone Books)
  • Erle Stanley Gardner: The Case of the Real Perry Mason (1978) (critical biography)

References

  • William L. DeAndrea: Encyclopedia Mysteriosa. A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Detection in Print, Film, Radio, and Television (New York: Macmillan, 1994).

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