This novel is based on an actual case, in which the truth of the matter is never really resolved but the consequences are extortionate, horrifying and harrowing. Adam Johnson, 19, with a sketchy past and a not too long established present as a factory worker, is accused of having attacked and stolen the purse of a woman, and he is shot in the back by a police officer from a cruising squad car. His spinal cord severed, Adam is permanently paralyzed from the waist down, appears in a Stryker frame for the trial which he hopes will exonerate him. Since he has no money, a young, inexperienced lawyer from the Legal Aid assumes his defense, and even though the case is insubstantial, the police department must be protected. Adam loses, is sent on to a prison where they don't know what to do with him and where it becomes apparent that without the proper equipment (a wheelchair first and braces) before a certain time, no will be permanently atrophied. The official welfare channels will not approve the expense (four hundred dollars); organized charity is uninterested; and only through the last minute intervention of a newspaper man is the money secured--from a Catholic Bingo Priest's ""slush fund."" Mr. Nolan's novel has not only a stringent story to tell but raises unsettling residual questions, exposes all kinds of bureaucratic practices, and here and there equates civic conscience with indifference. It is all compellingly readable.