Monday, April 24, 2017

A NIGHT FOR SCREAMING by Harry Whittington

Mitch Walker is on the run from the law. He's been on the run for a while before we meet him as he panhandles around a small Kansas town. He can't prove his innocence so he's on the lam because he's afraid of his torture-loving ex-partner and his penchant for boiling water enemas. Fate leads him to indentured work on a sprawling farm, biding his time, and getting entangled with the farms rich owner and his fun-loving wife.

Harry Whittington was famous for being able to whip up a well-paced story with great plotting, and this book seems to be a good primer for what he can do. I really loved the smooth way that the author exposed Mitch's backstory in bits and pieces exactly when needed and the way that multiple threads of twists and developments built on each other as mounting obstacles around Mitch. A lot of noir stories hinge on hapless protagonists that make bad decisions. It was a breath of fresh air to see that Whittington made Mitch Walker a pretty smart guy. Most of his decisions, relatively so, actually seemed pretty sound. And the ones that were less smart are the ones that his circumstances forced him to make. It's entertaining and fast-moving but the ending was a real let-down to me. But still, it's an impressive little pulp tale that'll prove to be a great read for noir fans.


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