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George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Ride the Pink Horse

cover image By: Hughes, Dorothy B. (female)
Publisher: Dell Publishing Co., Inc. (D225)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 275: PS3515 .U268 R53 1958
Contributor: D. Bogenschutz, S. Hoffman


Era: 1940s Author as on Cover: Dorothy B. Hughes Geographic Locale: Santa Fe, New Mexico Date of Publication: 1958  |  Original Date: 1946 Setting: small town during Fiesta Week, a time of celebration; large Mexican-American population Motives: murder and blackmail

Plot Summary

Sailor, a man on a mission, arrives in the small dusty town of Santa Fe on the bus from Chicago just as Fiesta Week gets underway. Amid the crowds who have come to the town to celebrate, Sailor searches for his former employer, Senator Willis Douglass, "the Sen", because there is still an outstanding debt owed to Sailor from the time he served on the Sen's staff. Sailor wants the money and he has a plan to get it. The Sen had killed his wife and Sailor was an eyewitness. But a detective named McIntyre is also in town to get the Sen for the murder of his wife. Will Sailor get the money he needs from the Sen so that he can disappear into Mexico or will he tell McIntyre what he knows about the murder of the Sen's wife?

Major Characters

McIntyre adult male, tall, thin, horse-faced police detective

Sailor adult male, former Senator's aide

Senator Willis Douglass "Sen," adult male, weasel-faced, long snout, sleepy-looking eyes, thin brown hair receding from the forehead, senator

Don Jose Patricio Santiago Morales y Cortez "Pancho Villa", adult male, Mexican-American, fat, dirty, merry-go-round operator at Fiesta

Eleanor Douglass adult female (unmet character), moneyed background, considerably older than her husband



Level of Violence

violence is alluded to but never really happens. The first murder happened outside the book; two final murders occur within the final pages.


all characters are heterosexual. Sen had a girlfriend, no obvious sex.

Gender Roles

really not given. Sailor is kind to a young Indian girl; tries to turn her against becoming a Fiesta prostitute.


racial prejudice is endorsed as far as Mexican-Americans are concerned; they are referred to as "spics" by Sailor. The town is a combination of Mexican, American and Indian cultures.

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

alcohol is a fact of life.

Law Enforcement

the law is viewed as the bad guy.

Added Features

the detective always gets his man.

Subject Headings

New Mexico - Santa Fe/ Police/ Murder/ Blackmail

Psychological Elements

Sailor has a big chip on his shoulder due to his impoverished, brutal childhood. He is trying to "make it" by joining the Sen's gang to get rich and move in the right circles.

Film Adaptations

Ride the Pink Horse, 1947, Universal International