cover image The So Blue Marble

The So Blue Marble

Dorothy B. Hughes. Penzler, $15.95 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-61316-105-0

First published in 1940, this delightful entry in Otto Penzler’s new American Mystery Classics series was the debut of MWA Grand Master Hughes (1904–1993), best known today for In a Lonely Place, which became a film starring Humphrey Bogart. After a brief stint as an actress in Hollywood, Griselda Satterlee has returned to Manhattan to pursue a career as a fashion designer. One night, while returning to her ex-husband’s East Side apartment, where she is staying, she is accosted by two frightening young men who demand that she give them the “blue marble.” What follows is nonstop action, with menace and daring exploits bursting through the smooth veneer of upper-class life. Students of cultural history will enjoy stepping back into a New York where gentlemen wear top hats when going out on the town, and ladies, when hastily packing to escape from psychopaths, remember to include in their suitcases “hats with tissue paper crumpled in their hollows.” That Hughes was a poet is clear from the jangling rhythm of her prose. Readers new to this forgotten classic are in for a treat. (Oct.)