Femme Fatale Laurel Gray is a failed and lonely actress who hooks up with a lonely, washed-up screenwriter, Dix Steele – a man with a murderous psychotic mind.
Dorothy B. Hughes, author of In A Lonely Place, introduces her Femme Fatale when she runs into Dex, who lives in the same apartment building as she does.
The girl didn’t move for a moment. She stood in his way and looked him over slowly, from crown to toe. The way a man looked over a woman, not the reverse. Her eyes were slanted; her lashes curved long and golden dark. She had red-gold hair, flaming hair, flung back from her amber face, falling to her shoulders. Her mouth was too heavy with lipstick, a copper-red mouth, a sultry mouth painted to call attention to its promise. She was dressed severely; a rigid tailor suit, but it accentuated the lift of her breasts, the curl of her hips. She wasn’t beautiful, her face was too narrow for beauty, but she was dynamite. He stood like a dolt, gawking at her.
Although In a Lonely Place has a tense, dark atmosphere, it isn’t without its smart-ass humor. Hughes delivers this through Laurel, a tough woman not about to fall into Dix’s charm.
“Don’t ever marry money. It isn’t worth it.” She began to eat as if her hunger had reawakened.
“I’ve always thought it might be a good racket.” He added, “For a woman.”
“There’s nothing wrong with the money. It’s what goes with it.
In a Lonely Place was first published in 1947 and chosen as one of critic HRF Keating’s 100 Best Crime & Mystery Books for 1987. Hughes wrote fourteen crime and detective novels, primarily in the hardboiled and noir styles of writers such as Chandler, Hammett, James M.Cain and Jim Thompson.
She’s won several awards including the prestigious Edgar Award in 1950 and was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1978. She died in 1993 at the age of 89.
In a Lonely Place was made into a movie and stared Humphrey Bogart as Dex and Gloria Grahame as Laurel.
For my short analysis of Dex see my review on Goodreads.