Man in the Shadow is the novelization of a 1957 movie starring Jeff Chandler and Orson Welles. The movie was on Encore Westerns, and I wanted to watch it, so I read the book first. It's very good, which is no surprise, since Harry Whittington wrote it.
Not that there's anything new in the story. It's a modern western about the big landowner who controls a small town, and if a migrant worker is murdered on his land, well, everybody would just as soon forget about it, cover it over, and go on. Everybody except the sheriff, that is, if he's a man who believes in doing his job like Ben Sadler does. Sadler's a man who'll keep going against whatever odds are against him to do what the law requires.
And when it comes to stacking the odds against a guy like Sadler, nobody ever did it any better than Harry Whittington. He gives full value in this short novelization, and the brutality factor is raised to about 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. The attitudes toward the migrants in the story are about what you'd expect for the middle 1950s, not that much different from now, I guess, except for Sadler and a local barber, who are a lot different. It's a sad commentary that so little has changed in the last 60 years.
The book's well worth a look if you have a copy lying around or want to pick one up on the 'net. It follows the movie closely, and I'll be talking about the movie on Tuesday.