I wrote a long essay on Dorothy B. Hughes that’s running now in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Hughes, as I state in the piece, is my all-time favorite crime writer, something I thought might be true when I first read IN A LONELY PLACE, her 1947 novel, a number of years ago but was confirmed with multiple rereads of the book, and especially when diving into her backlist. Hughes is what I’d call a lightbulb author — in that the work inspires all sorts of rapid-fire connections to authors past and present and you realize he or she is a key and critical link to how things were, are, and will be.
Needless to say I’ve been heartened to see a lot of online chatter about Hughes’ final novel, THE EXPENDABLE MAN (1963), reissued earlier this summer by NYRB Classics. I hope my piece helps fill in some other gaps and bring back a number of her other, more neglected works, like DREAD JOURNEY or THE CROSS-EYED BEAR or THE FALLEN SPARROW, and so on and so forth. And confidential to Geoffrey O’Brien: you were wrong, sir. So, so wrong. America had to catch up with Hughes, as it turned out.
In other things I’ve written lately, my newest Crimewave column ran this weekend in the National Post, featuring new titles by Stephen Miller, Jennifer Hillier, and Inger Ash Wolfe, now finally revealed to be Michael Redhill after years of this being an open secret. Here’s where *I* admit to some wrong: a few years ago, when THE CALLING was first published, I wrote a piece for Maclean’s in which I posited “Wolfe” might be Jane Urquhart. The trail I followed wasn’t entirely bogus — when unmasking pseudonymous authors, always start with the agent, because it’s more likely to be an existing client than a writer who’s deliberately changed representation for the pseudonym — but folded in assumptions that shouldn’t have been folded in. And Redhill *does* have the same agent as Urquhart, but I discounted him at the time because the timing didn’t appear to me to be right. Anyway, it’s all immaterial now that Redhill’s taken ownership of the books, which are quite good. Will they change at all now that he’s to be more open about who wrote them? Perhaps but I suspect not.
And speaking of Maclean’s, I reviewedPENELOPE, a charming debut campus comic novel by Huffington Post College editor Rebecca Harrington, for the newsweekly.