The jade piccolo belongs to Jack Whitlow who plays it like a pied piper--he's a renegade/visionary/con man/bootlegger of some charm and swagger who drifts back into town--namely a midwestern ""snuffbox of bourgeois inhumanity"" in the late '20's. His story is told through the hero-worshipful eyes and eagerly eavesdropping ears of his namesake, young Jack, and his friend, Tarzan, as they speculate on Whitlow's relationship to the very beautiful woman next door, Dorothy- She turns out to have been his wife of some years after a brief other marriage. And his attempt to bring ""Inner Radiance"" to another woman (actually his former sister-in-law). And his business activities in the woods. And finally his guilt, at any rate participation in a murder. . . . Mr. Shipley tells his story rather circularly against the phlegmatic and prosaic background of America as it was--from observation posts on the back porch or the front yard--and via two adulating adolescents who contribute some of its quiet tragicomedy. . . . It won't grab you but it will take you unaware from time to time.