Manfred Gregor is the author of The Bridge (translated from the German and published here last year). In this second novel he examines the reactions within a small German town after the rape of the stepdaughter of a petty official by four American soldiers. While 16 year old Karen Steinhoff's identity is still a secret the townspeople are shocked and outraged and American officials fear the event will be seized upon and inflated for political purposes. But when her identity inevitably leaks out during the court martial of the soldiers, attitudes toward her change, due to jealousies and resentment of Karen's well-to-do stepfather; she becomes less a victim and more a scapegoat. There are conflicts too among the American military principals: Captain Korneff, assigned as defense attorney, finds his sympathies with the girl but his convictions -- which are opposed to capital punishment, will lead him to discredit her on the witness stand. He pleads with Steinhoff to take the girl out of the trial but the narrow-minded burgomaster insists on her testimony for his own vindication. Korneff does his job all too well, shattering the girl, and finally, mistrusted even by her own family, she drowns herself. An inevitably dramatic story handled deftly and with an understanding of motivation.