Tag Archives: Dorothy B. Hughes

Anyone Can Write a Mystery

“Anyone can write a mystery,” says a book editor in Helen McCloy’s Two-Thirds of a Ghost (1956), and later a literary agent asserts, “there is no market anywhere now for a story with a plot.” As an author and publisher of mysteries, those most highly plotted of fictions, McCloy is clearly having a little fun.

The opportunity to rediscover McCloy’s work was one of the benefits of a class I taught recently on some women mystery writers of the 1950s. I titled the course “Forgotten Masters” because my four authors—Helen McCloy, Charlotte Armstrong, Margaret Millar, and Dorothy B. Hughes—are largely forgotten and out of print today, while many of their male contemporaries are not (including Ross Macdonald, who was Millar’s husband).

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Dorothy B. Hughes’ Last Novel

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, I am intrigued to note that this year is also the 50th anniversary of the publication of Dorothy B. Hughes’s final novel, The Expendable Man, in which race is an important factor.

Hugh Densmore is a young physician interning in Los Angeles. Driving one night across the desert to his grandparents’ home in Phoenix, he picks up, against his better judgment, a young female hitchhiker. Given the time of day and the deserted highway, Hugh fears she might otherwise be in danger.

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