Friday, February 03, 2012

Forgotten Books: A Night for Screaming -- Harry Whittington

This post originally appeared in slightly different form on July 13, 2005, before the “Forgotten Books” feature got started.

Which of Harry Whittington's novels is my favorite? That's an impossible question for me to answer, since I like so many of them. Certainly A Night for Screaming is right up there, so I decided to re-read it. It's the story of Mitch Walker, ex-cop, on the run from a murder he didn't commit, who winds up in Kansas, working on a huge farm that's run like the prison camp in Cool Hand Luke. The complications include Walker's relentless pursuer, the beautiful but nutjob wife of the farm's owner, the owner himself, the brutal overseers, and more.

One thing Whittington can do about as well as anybody ever could is begin the book with a tense situation and then dial up the tension on every succeeding page. He can put his protagonist into a situation that seems as bad as it can get, and then he can make it worse. And after that, he can make it worse still. In this book he takes a seemingly simple situation and complicates it more with every chapter, throwing in a few reversals and surprises along the way. If you ever run across a copy of A Night for Screaming, don't pass it up. You'll be sorry if you do. It's a dandy story, and it has a great cover, besides.

Since I wrote the above, the book has been reprinted in a swell double volume along with Any Woman He Wanted by Stark House. You can’t go wrong.


George said...

A NIGHT FOR SCREAMING would get my vote for Best Whittington Novel.

Evan Lewis said...

Having just grokked on another Stark House collection, Rapture Alley/Winter Girl/Strictly for the Boys, this sounds pretty dang good.

Unknown said...

You can't go wrong. Trust me.