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Prolific noir writer Dorothy B. Hughes has 14 novels to her name, but, for its daring first-person narrative told from the perspective of a serial killer, In a Lonely Place is perhaps her most memorable work. The story follows Dix Steele, a World War II fighter pilot who winds up in Los Angeles exploiting wealthy acquaintances and living lavishly. The protagonist is chasing the thrills he felt during his wartime efforts, but finds himself without the same sense of purpose—so he soon turns his frustrations to senselessly murdering women. The 1947 novel traces the psychology of Steele’s motives and why he chooses his victims in a way that shaped the genre and paved the way for subsequent serial killer narratives from Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley to Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. In a Lonely Place was also adapted into a 1950 film of the same name, directed by Nicholas Ray and fronted by Humphrey Bogart. Hughes further cemented her status influence on the genre when she became the 1978 Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America. —Armani Syed

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