In this third novel in Bienek's saga of the Silesian town of Gleiwitz, the time is 1943--Good Friday specifically--and the war has become such an entrenched reality that the townspeople have almost reached the point of living around it. Yet that's impossible--and Bienek's aim in this volume seems to be to calibrate just how impossible it is for individual characters. For the Jewish writer Silbergleit (a Berlin refugee who hoped to pass undetected in the little town of his birth), it's completely too late: the Gestapo has taken him, and he's on his way to death in the camps. Even to the hearty Mother Courage of the town, Valeska Piontek, the noose feels tighter: her daughter Halina has been arrested for consorting with an escaped Russian prisoner. And the townspeople in general know that their traditional lives are probably ruined forever when the church bells are removed to be melted down for military use by the Reich. Bienek writes richly about this parochialism-on-the-brink, but the richness here occasionally flirts with sluggishness too--and the book is likely to appeal most to the readers who've been following Gleiwitz's fate in The First Polka (1984) and September Light (1986).