Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, March 11, 2011


Ben Forbes, a successful young lawyer, waits for his wife to pick him up at his office.  She never appears.

     Ben had represented Lorene Guthrie in a divorce suit against her sadistic husband Al.  Al Guthrie blames Ben for his wife leaving him and for convincing her to file for divorce; until Ben appeared, Lorene always came crawling back to Al after he beat her.  With the divorce to be finalized within two weeks, Al has a delusional plan to get his wife back.  He has kidnapped Carolyn Forbes, and if Ben wants his wife back, he must convince Lorene to come back to Al.  Because Al believes Ben was the one to convince his wife to leave him, he will be the one who can convince Lorene to come back.  If Ben fails, Al will kill Carolyn, the Lorene, and then Ben.

     Ben is afraid to tell the police, even though his wife's disappearance is being handled by high school friend Detective Ernie McGrath.  Ben's erratic behavior makes Ernie begin to suspect that he had killed his wife.  In the meantime, Ben contacts Lorene, a young, beautiful, and selfish woman, who has just become engaged to an older -- safer -- man.  Ben soon realizes that the shallow Lorene will be of no help. 

     The stage is set for a razor-sharp, fast-moving psychological thriller.  Author Leigh Brackett rachets up the suspense as Al Guthrie descends further and further into madness.  An Eye for an Eye is a crackerjack novel with a sudden violent ending, a book that -- if it had not been issued by a major hardcover publisher -- would have fit just fine with a yellow spine and a Gold Medal label.

     Leigh Brackett began her career as a science fiction writer, becoming one of the leading authors of planetary adventure.  Her first novel, however, was a hard-boiled detective story and she soon brought a noir sensibility to her science fiction.  She soon moved to screenwriting, writing such classics as The Big Sleep (with William Faulkner), Rio Bravo, The Long Goodbye, and The Empire Strikes Back (complete by Lawrence Kasdan after Brackett's sudden death).  Among her many novels were The Sword of Rhiannon and The Long Tomorrow (science fiction), Follow the Free Wind (western, winner of the Spur award), Stranger at Home (mystery novel ghost-written for actor George Sanders), and mystery novels No Good for a Corpse, A Tiger Among Us, and Silent Partner.  Her science fiction short stories are currently being published in really great editions from Haffner Press, and Silent Partner was released with a number of mystery short stories by Dennis McMillan in 1999.  Most of her books are readily available through on-line sellers.  No matter what hat she wore, Leigh Brackett always delivered the goods.


     For more of Friday's Forgotten Books, go to Patti Abbot's blog Pattinase at


  1. And don't forget her fine anthology, meant to be the first of a series, PLANET STORIES one, not even Poul Anderson, could write as brilliantly in the PLANET STORIES mode and also in the less Romantic-adventure modes favored by most of the other elite sf magazines...and I've been needing to augment solely having NO GOOD FOR A CORPSE among her novels for a long time. Cool.

  2. Her crime-fiction novels, that is.

  3. Good one, Jerry. You're right about Brackett, what a talented writer. I've only read her SF-F, but am tempted to try this one.

  4. Never tried a Brackett mystery. Maybe it's time.