Review | The NYRB Book Club August 2017 | In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes


One of the bookish subscription boxes I’ll be reviewing this year doesn’t actually involve a box, so I guess it’s just a bookish subscription. I’m talking about the New York Review Books Book Club.

The deal I signed up for included 12 books (one each month, you know) as well as a yearly subscription to The Paris Review (four copies in total). You can read my reviews of the books in my NYRB subscriptions so far and reviews of the Paris Review.

In a Lonely Place Dorothy Hughes cover.jpegThe last few books in this subscription have been total misses but I’m glad to say that this month was a big old home run: In a Lonely Place by Dorthy B. Hughes.

Who knew I needed a noir about post-war Los Angeles? Who knew I needed a badass lady writer (also known as a writer) to tell a story of a violent sociopath from the sociopath’s point of view? This book was so intense I don’t even know what to say about it except this: This book was intense!

If you’ve ever wondered what’s going on in the head of a murderer and rapist, then this is your book. Hughes did an incredible job of just sort of touching on the crimes this man committed at first, and gradually uncovering more of the details. The result was that even after it was fairly clear that the man was a murderer, you still fee some kinship and empathy for him. As the book goes on, I had a lot of intense, complicated feelings that I would never have imagined. 

Rating: 10/10

Recommended for: That’s a hard one. Like I said, it’s intense. It’s difficult to read. It’s disturbing. It’s also very tense in a pleasant way and it kept me on the edge of my seat. It’s been a long time since I’ve locked myself in the bathroom and pretended to poop just so I could get in another ten pages when I should have been working, but this book did that to me.

Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace testNo.

Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: N / N / Y / N

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