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The story follows "Bricky", a hardened ten-cents-a-dance-girl who is disillusioned with life in New York City but is too scared to admit failure and return to her small-town home in Iowa. One night she meets Quinn, a troubled young patron who Bricky lets walk her home. They discover that they both come from the same town and the two quickly bond. He then admits he also secretly longs to return, but can't until his conscience is clear from some money he stole from the safe of a former client. They make a pact to leave together on the dawn bus after they have returned the money. However, on re-entering the man's home, they discover he has been murdered. They have until dawn to track down the killer before the police are called and Quinn will be blamed for the crime.
The novel was adapted in 1946 into a RKO Pictures movie directed by Harold Clurman in his only on-screen directing credit. However, the film made many changes from its original source material, including changing the names of both lead characters and the identity of the murderer.
- Clurman, Harold; Menzies, William Cameron (1946-03-18), Deadline at Dawn, Susan Hayward, Bill Williams, Paul Lukas, retrieved 2017-10-28
- "Deadline at Dawn (1946) with Susan Hayward and Paul Lukas - Classic Film Freak". Classic Film Freak. 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- "Escape and Suspense!: Suspense - Deadline at Dawn". www.escape-suspense.com. Retrieved 2017-10-28.