Maria's Place"" on Highway 61, and its owner, Mama Maria, widow, are the precipitating agents in the lives of drifting, withdrawing, veteran Ed,- drifting, questioning, Ellen,- and the slow, trapped-mind Venter. Ellen, seduced in the tourist cabin by a shallow boy, stays on, is offered to a truck driver by grasping Venter, who outsmarts his own plan by trying to take her himself. Ed comes out of his isolation to protect her and fire Venter. Mama Maria fearing cancer, learns it is heart trouble that endangers her life, hopes to hold Ed as counterman with her weakness. When he rescues her savings from the vengeful Venter, she relinquishes her dream, gives him to Ellen. With a tight hold on the concise pattern, the clearly defined characters, this flood-lights the influence and power of the road, in bringing together and climaxing the chance fellowships. A certain strength and sureness obviates the sordidness.