A new novel lacks the narrative excitement of his earlier books- The Small Rack Room, Mine Own Executioner, and it is perhaps Mr. Balchin's exact and quite expert workmanship which lends a deceptive substance to this story of the decline and fall of Jason Pellew, a sorry figure at best. Henry Payne, his only and a not too willing friend, provides the accounting on Jason whom he first knew as an unhappy youngster even prior to his parents' tragedy, later wetsursed through some checky scrapes in boarding school. Again at Cambridge, Jason was to continue his unreliable, unsteady course- and along with his occasional charm, there were his fantastic and eccentric gestures. There was too the attachment to the Jewish Leah who introduced him to leftist circles and helped to take him to Spain to fight. During the war, Leah died- on a secret mission- and Jason, attached to Payne and his ""parachute testing"" organization, cracked up completely after establishing a distinguished record. The postwar years found him drifting, dependent, and deteriorating to a series of foolish and criminal acts which bring him to book and sentence... A shaded portrait which could suggest through Jason the dubious, indecisive character of this whole era just before the war and extend its purpose. Many however will not find Jason either a likable- or particularly pitiable- character.