In a small English seaside town, quite literally a backwater, a nineteen year old Negro private is accused of the rape of a girl. In the vendetta to follow, he tries to shoot his way toward securing a retraction of the charge (""You all want me dead you bastards. Leave me alone. I'll kill you if you come near me""). Others cross the hapless, confused soldier's path: a reporter; a Chief Constable; the Mayor-- a lecher who owns a brothel; its madam and her nance; a beauty queen. Thus all the honkytonk aspects of cheap sex and random crime are indirectly indicted. One reads the novel with a certain disinterested interest-- as one might a newspaper account-- in which the blunt, basic prose furthers the action but has no real element of style. Then again most of the characters who seem reasonably alive on the page are forgotten the minute you turn it.