The Expendable Man

The Expendable Man

By Dorothy B. Hughes; Walter Mosley (Afterword by); Walter Mosley (Introduction by)

New York Review of Books, Paperback, 9781590174951, 264pp.

Publication Date: July 3, 2012

Description

“It was surprising what old experiences remembered could do to a presumably educated, civilized man.” And Hugh Denismore, a young doctor driving his mother’s Cadillac from Los Angeles to Phoenix, is eminently educated and civilized. He is privileged, would seem to have the world at his feet, even. Then why does the sight of a few redneck teenagers disconcert him? Why is he reluctant to pick up a disheveled girl hitchhiking along the desert highway? And why is he the first person the police suspect when she is found dead in Arizona a few days later?

Dorothy B. Hughes ranks with Raymond Chandler and Patricia Highsmith as a master of mid-century noir. In books like In a Lonely Place and Ride the Pink Horse she exposed a seething discontent underneath the veneer of twentieth-century prosperity. With The Expendable Man, first published in 1963, Hughes upends the conventions of the wrong-man narrative to deliver a story that engages readers even as it implicates them in the greatest of all American crimes.



About the Author
Dorothy B. Hughes (1904-1993) was a mystery author and literary critic. Born in Kansas City, she studied at Columbia University, and won an award from the Yale Series of Younger Poets for her first book, the poetry collection "Dark Certainty" (1931). After writing several unsuccessful manuscripts, she published "The So Blue Marble" in 1940. A New York-based mystery, it won praise for its hardboiled prose, which was due, in part, to Hughes's editor, who demanded she cut 25,000 words from the book. Hughes published thirteen more novels, the best known of which are "In a Lonely Place" (1947) and "Ride the Pink Horse" (1946). Both were made into successful films. In the early fifties, Hughes largely stopped writing fiction, preferring to focus on criticism, for which she would go on to win an Edgar Award. In 1978, the Mystery Writers of America presented Hughes with the Grand Master Award for literary achievement

Walter Mosley is the "New York Times" bestselling author of five Easy Rawlins mysteries: "Devil in A Blue Dress", "A Red Death", "White Butterfly", "Black Betty, " and "A Little Yellow Dog"; three non-mystery novels, "Blue Light", "Gone Fishin'", and "R. L.'s Dream"; two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, "Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned", for which he received the Anisfield Wolf Award, and which was an HBO movie; and a nonfiction book, "Workin' On The Chain Gang". Mosley is also the author of the Leonid McGill, and Fearless Jones mystery series, "The Tempest Tales" and "Six Easy Pieces". He is a former president of the Mystery Writers of America, a founder of the PEN American Center Open Book Committee, and is on the board of directors of the National Book Awards. A native of Los Angeles, he now lives in New York City.

Walter Mosley is the "New York Times" bestselling author of five Easy Rawlins mysteries: "Devil in A Blue Dress", "A Red Death", "White Butterfly", "Black Betty, " and "A Little Yellow Dog"; three non-mystery novels, "Blue Light", "Gone Fishin'", and "R. L.'s Dream"; two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, "Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned", for which he received the Anisfield Wolf Award, and which was an HBO movie; and a nonfiction book, "Workin' On The Chain Gang". Mosley is also the author of the Leonid McGill, and Fearless Jones mystery series, "The Tempest Tales" and "Six Easy Pieces". He is a former president of the Mystery Writers of America, a founder of the PEN American Center Open Book Committee, and is on the board of directors of the National Book Awards. A native of Los Angeles, he now lives in New York City.


Praise For The Expendable Man

The Expendable Man is one of the great trick novels of crime fiction. Yet to call it that is to belittle it. Its trick is no clever, superimposed bit of literary legerdemain: it is integral to the whole conception of the book. . . . A fine achievement.” —H. R. F. Keating, Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books

“Hughes didn’t just pre-date Jim Thompson, she also pre-dated Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell, and other so-called Masters of Psychological Suspense or Noir. And her writing style stands up to the test of time.”  —Sarah Weinman, Bookslut

"Puts Chandler to shame . . . Hughes is the master we keep turning to."—Sara Paretsky, author of the V. I. Warshawski novels

“You are rocked back by Ms. Hughes some fifty pages into her story, and I can certify that the effect is truly rocking. You even read past the vital word, just one word in a sentence of swift
dialogue, before you realize what it has said, and what a new and different light it casts on everything you have read up to that moment.” —H. R. F Keating

“A mystery writer who. . . in America was regarded as one of the great names of detective fiction. . . . Her real talent lay in an ability to create atmospheres of growing apprehension and
fear, a very modern approach at a time when Agatha Christie was producing her comparatively predictable puzzles. . . . Her last, and some consider her best, work of fiction was The
Expendable Man.” —The Times (London)

“Let me say that it is Mrs. Hughes’ finest work . . . of unusual stature both as a suspense story and as a straight novel and nowise to be missed.” —Anthony Boucher, The New York Times
 
“The suspense twist makes this tale a stand-out.” —Saturday Review
 
“To read The Expendable Man today is to experience a mature work by a mistress of her craft.” Dominic Power
 
"A surprise-twist gasper about a young doc who picks up a sick chick and gets framed by a hack dick for her kill" —Time

“One of crime fiction's finest writers of psychological suspense.” —Marcia Miller, author of the Sharon McCone novels
 
"This lady is the queen of noir. . ." —Laurie R. King, author of the Mary Russell novels
 
“Nobody but Dorothy Hughes can cast suspense into such an uncanny spell . . .” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
"A gun molling wordslinger who took it to the tough guys . . . I simply call Hughes one damn good story teller." —John Hood, Bully Magazine