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Fleming has built up a sound following -- but not a widely popular one. This one is getting a double break, which added to its distinction as a piece of regional recreation should push it up into best sellerdom. Since reporting it on P. 304, two things have happened. It has been chosen as December Literary Guild selection. And the catastrophic floods of our own mid-west have made the flood episode which supplies the climax of the story live in every line for a public who followed the threat of mounting flood waters in the papers and on the air. Here is a perceptive portrait of a Southern town, loyal to the sanctity of the family the townsfolk cherish, united in determination to protect the present- and what measure of equilibrium has been attained- from the prying of a Northerner, a journalist named Ventner, curious about a dubious sin of the past. Lined against him is the Trafford clan, from the grand old man protecting- one assumes- his absent son, from the smear of slander, to the son-in-law, Barfield, self made and an outsider, but perhaps all the more determined to shield the old injustice from the deadly light of truth. Into this emotional tangle comes a new threat, the threat of flood, and the town is united in a bigger goal, under the direction of the engineer working on the dam, and the impetus of Barfield, now for the first time seizing on something bigger than himself. And still Ventner ferrets out the old truth, and it is only when the Negro for whom he seeks belated justice turns -- seeking his own revenge- on the boy David, who is Ventner's friend, and is himself killed, does he see that present and future have prior claims. There are side issues, from the emotional entanglements of Barfield and the lonely engineer's wife, to the minor vignettes of local events, but in the main this emerges as a panorama of the tentacles of a Georgia town. And a reflection of the pattern of Southern life.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1951
Publisher: Lippincott