In a Lonely Place by Dorothy Hughes

Reading this book was a mistake. I saw a reference to it somewhere and discovered it was the basis for the classic 1950 movie also called In a Lonely Place. The movie starred Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame and was directed by Nicholas Ray. The main character, Dixon Steele, is a struggling Hollywood screenwriter with a bad temper who’s suspected of being a killer. In the book, Steele is a veteran with delusions of grandeur who lives off his rich uncle and kills young women for no apparent reason. Apparently, the book was one of the first depictions of the mind of a serial killer. That’s probably one reason it was included in the distinguished Library of America’s Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1940s. From that perspective, it was good enough. The post-war Los Angeles setting was also interesting at times (although the characters spend an awful lot of time smoking and drinking). I didn’t especially enjoy seeing the world from Dixon Steel’s perspective and mainly stuck with it out of curiosity. I wish I hadn’t.