Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dolores Hitchens and PI Jim Sader

Sleep With Strangers by Dolores Hitchens.
Perma M3040, Copyright 1955

Sleep With Slander by Dolores Hitchens
Perma M4243, Copyright 1960

Continuing with these wonderful discussions on female authors writing excellent noir novels in the days when men dominated the field; Ed Gorman makes an excellent point that these should not be overlooked and deserved to be read. And having read many, I wished there were more. Although I have a very strong affection for Leigh Brackett's noir works, I was more impressed with the Jim Sader novels written by Dolores Hitchens.

The majority of Hitchen's work are tame mysteries, but along the way she gave us two excellent hardboiled Jim Sader PI novels. Sader a loner, with his own problems, takes on missing person cases for the two-man agency he has with his partner Dan Scarborough. In "Sleep With Strangers," Sader gets involved with a wealthy blonde, along with her family and her acquaintances. The gorgeous woman hires Sader to locate her missing mother. The story get into the filth of her society and Sader gets dragged downward into it. "Sleep With Slander" has Sader hunting down a kidnapped child. This one grabs you from the start with a moving two page prelude. People are not who they make out to be and Sader discovers that there are plenty of false truths throughout the case. "Slander" is the better of the two books, which may be because Sader's partner is not involved in the story and we witness a strong emotional involvement in Sader on this case. But the first novel should not be dismissed.

"There was a sudden taste of exhaustion, as sharp as that of blood, in his mouth, and he was aware that he had taken a beating, that he hadn't had any dinner, that he was so tired that he could have dropped where he stood to sleep. He felt that he was alone in a room full of ghosts."

These female writers provided more than hardboiled PI stories, they had the ability to capture true development of their characters; which I find a large number of male authored PI novels leave out. For some reason the female authors from that era, get it and make it the strength in their stories. I guess that was the point I was trying to convey in my previous post on 'The Blank Wall."

As for Kevin Burton Smith and his upcoming study on female hardboiled/pulp-era authors, it's long overdue and he should be applauded for taking on the task.

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