This is probably Moravia's most ambitious work, his most adult, but it lacks the touch of eroticism which proved passport to popularity in his earlier Woman of Rome, etc. This is a penetrating study of the creation of a fascist official in seccret service, from his early unhappy home, and the uncontrollable rages and sadism which were characteristic of him as a child, to final- too late- recognition that his life had taken a wrong turn, that the need for conforming was no longer there, that he must change the pattern of his existence....At 13, he turned on a chauffeur who tried to lure him into his bed; the crime hung over him and persuaded him that he must do what society expected of him. He marries a girl who seems the epitome of conventionality, only to find that she, too, had a bitterly twisted adolescence. On his honeymoon, ostensibly, he sets off for Paris, his assignment the death of a remiss co-worker in the fascist secret service, and is blocked when someone else takes over the killing. Back in Rome, his marriage drifts into unhappiness, he finds ultimately that not only was the chauffeur he thought he had killed still living, but the murder in Paris, which he'd failed to perform, had turned out to be unnecessary. Released of these two threats to his security, he realizes that he has another chance. But Fate takes even that from him. A new Moravia here, for the American public.