Wednesday, July 4, 2012
The Expendable Man, by Dorothy B. Hughes
NYRB Classics, 2012
originally published 1963
My favorite fiction is the edgy, gritty kind where some poor guy, for some reason or another, gets drawn into a hopelessly screwed-up situation and finds that it just keeps getting worse, despite everything he does to try to escape. These kinds of stories start off innocuously enough, but within just a very short time my tension starts to build, joined by a restlessness and a quickly-growing sensitivity to the fear and paranoia emanating from the hapless character. When that level of unease stays with me the entire time I've got the book in my hands, I'm positively elated. This feeling is precisely what I look for when I pick up a crime novel, and this is exactly what I got in Dorothy B. Hughes' The Expendable Man. What happens in this novel is nothing less than one man's nightmare played out over the course of a few days of his life; between the lines Hughes pens her own insights into issues pertinent to the time & place of this novel's setting.
Absolutely superb noir that I can definitely recommend. It just doesn't get much better than this -- you'll find the review here.