A Night For Screaming

Killer Covers: May 2009

Harry Whittington was nicknamed the King of the Paperbacks, having penned over 170 of them in his lifetime. He was also one of the greatest of the pulp writers of the fifties and captured the essence of the pulpy feel almost effortlessly. “A Night For Screaming” is without question a five-star read.

It is filled with the sense of desperation, the sense of nowhere to turn to, down on your luck with the whole world turned against you. The backdrop is a hot, dusty, world where the protagonist drifts penniless and with the law after him for a murder he didn’t do, but how the hell is going to prove it. He is just running “like a conditioned mouse in a maze.”

He can’t even bum a quarter from a lady on the main street without having her act like he’s crazy – even when “she looked like the busty, leggy brand of chick that got spoken to by any man with energy enough to open his mouth, which was just about what [he] had left.” “She had the arrogant look of the spoiled babe who has learned to take everything that isn’t freely rendered to her; laughter didn’t come easy to her unless there was a knife in it.” Ouch. This is without doubt a vicious little femme fatale. And that’s before he knows that Eve Cassell is the feudal lord’s wife, waving a whiskey bottle around and dressed in a blue nightgown and that “she’s a dame no ten men could ever satisfy.” And the men in this book. “Nothing organically wrong with them,” but what they “suffered was a virus of the soul.”

This book is a gem. The plot may not be that complex, but Whittington fills it with descriptions of desperation, of meanness, of people struggling to get through each and every day. And, everyone is trapped inside a prison, some with bars, some without bars.

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