This is a sodden melodrama. Everyone drinks a great deal, and in between there's a good deal of what is referred to as ""searching femininity"" which can be equated with available sex. The story opens with the release, after three years of prison and just a few hours away from the chair, of Max Roman, a Marine Captain who had been accused of killing a woman. (His wife's sister, promiscuously unhappy.) Now taking a leave to determine whether or not he wants to stay in the service, he has an affair with Sutton Sumner, justifiably at loose ends. Her husband has been drinking and sleeping around. Then there's Sutton's sister (Max's women seem to come in siblings). And after some near death and disaster sequences (snowbound in the Sierras; washed out by a tidal wave) Max returns to the Semper Fidelis of the Corps and Vietnam... While Little is never a subtle writer, sometimes he's unfathomable: ""He saw the reddish glisten of martinis in her sapphire eyes.