Sakall is a probation officer in Tucson, Arizona, with a picture of the American eagle on his wall (it has claws) and the power to dispose of lives -- a nod from him to the judge and Donna, aged 20 and up on forgery and possession, will go free; a frown and she'll have to expiate her crimes in jail. Sakall takes his responsibilities seriously; nothing angers him so much as sullen non-cooperation, hostility or indifference on the part of those whose destiny -- they'd better not forget it -- he holds in his hands. Once Sakall was ""a good Christian pastor""; still longer ago he was a brutalized child, victim of a savage tyrannical father whom he hated. He likes to think that his intimate knowledge of good and evil gives him a special affinity, a special understanding of those who come before him to be judged. Some of them are interesting, even compelling people -- Carroll Smith, the ""good man"" who murdered twice, Jimmy Olney, the Okie from Okmulgee who hasn't a mean bone in his body but keeps getting in trouble with the law. And yet. . . there's a smugness, a moral arrogance in this book that will make you uncomfortable -- is it Sakall, or is it Harrington's transcription of him? Sakall will help them, the thieves, burglars, rapists, killers. . . but what he demands in return is a part of their soul.