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Social Concerns / Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Bats Fly at Dusk follows the events that evolve out of an unreported automobile accident in front of a blind beggar. The story involves frauds, snitches, and scoundrels, not the least of whom is the protagonist Bertha Cool, who like almost everyone else wants a cut of whatever money is generated as a result of the collision between an automobile and a secretary named Josephine Dell.

Hardly anyone is what he seems in this novel. The theme of disguise adds to the mystery of the novel and enhances the theme of people trying to be more than they are. As she tracks down leads, Cool discovers that most characters have secret lives, quite apart from their public ones. Loneliness and greed motivate most of those who live in a seamy Los Angeles. Greed seems to triumph over selflessness until the novel's climax.