A novel of French police procedures takes Assistant Chief Inspector Forbin through his interrogation of Claude-Andre- Penelope Racan whose evidence is needed to convict shady Dr. Danieli. Through the course of his interviewing, Forbin feels out all the approaches to Penny -- from a lover's learning to know the girl he must conquer to the agent of the law who is out to get a conviction -- and in pursuing his duty finds out a lot more about the girl than he had bargained for. Penny tells her story backward in time, relating the facts about her latest lover before she gets to the information about her earliest, and before she brings out the truth that she is not sure who has fathered the pregnancy which has sent her to Dr. Danieli. And Forbin, cat at a mouse hole, waits, listens, wonders -- and ponders -- until the sordid tale is finished- and finds that there has not been any need for his persistence because Danieli has commotted suicide and the case is dropped. This follows the Simenon lines of investigatory techniques but without the finesse, or the disinterested attitudes of the old master, and witnesses the stand of the younger generation against the mores of their elders. Headline headaches -- and as temporary.