The other day Lee Goldberg asked me which of Harry Whittington's novels was 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.