A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Pronzini

  LEIGH BRACKETT – The Tiger Among Us. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1957. Also published as 13 West Street: Bantam J2323, paperback, 1962. Reprinted in the UK as Fear No Evil (Corgi, paperback, 1960).

   This is Leigh Brackett’s best crime novel — a simple, straightforward, consistently gripping, and powerful story of one man’s nightmare encounter with random teenage violence. Walter Sherris, an average family man and a white-collar employee of a company in an Ohio mill town, takes a walk along a dark road one night and is brutally beaten by five young “tigers” out looking for thrills.

   But that is only the beginning of his ordeal. When Sherris is finally released from the hospital, he sets out to do what the police haven’t been able to: learn the identities of his attackers and see justice done. It isn’t long, however, before he is again the hunted — and his family along with him. For the five boys, continuing their random attacks, have gone too far with another of their victims: They are already murderers and stand ready to kill again. Even if Sherris learns to wear the stripes of the tiger himself, even if he survives this second assault, he knows his life will never be the same.

   Fine writing and some genuinely harrowing scenes make The Tiger Among Us one of the best of the spate of Fifties novels dealing with juvenile delinquency. In the forcefulness of its message, in fact, it is second only to Evan Hunter’s mainstream novel The Blackboard Jungle. An effective screen version appeared under the title 13 West Street in 1962, starring Alan Ladd and Rod Steiger.

   Brackett’s other crime novels are An Eye for an Eye (1957) and Silent Partner (1969). She also ghosted a mystery for actor George Sanders, Stranger at Home (1946).

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.