A strange aura is thrown over this cast of characters by the device of selecting either people whose way of life lies in the dark shadows of the night, or those who prefer the anonymity that night creates. A recurrent accent is supplied by ""Ole Nightwalker Ferguson"", the cop who covers the center of the Southern town and looks in on the doings at the cafe, run by the Duprees, at the platform for arrivals on the night train, at the secret but known activities at the local bootlegger's. He has a haunting sense of some previous dealings with Julie Hobson, out-of-towner who seems to have settled in -- and mistrusts he association with the night man at the gas station. He wonders, too, at the friendship between Carter, taxi driver, and Laura Lee, whose parents were gone-to-seed gentlefolk, and whose brother had gone North and become a big shot. All in all, the threads of plot are diverse; the characterizations blurred at the edges; the sense of mystery, of identity, of what the present-and the future-might hold is never wholly resolved, but keeps the reader in tension throughout. Quite different from the friendly chitchet of the earlier books.