Houghton is sharply limited in his potentialities as a novelist by his seeming inability to tell a straight story. Once again he uses a formula for an indirect recreation of his story. A man has been shot under dubious circumstances. After long weeks of illness, he gradually comes back to life, and the scenes of his childhood are relived. As he grows better, he is given the inquest record, and again his imagination takes hold, recreating a scene he never saw -- and at great length. The finale is a surprise; the steps approaching it are unreal; the whole emerges as melodrama, but melodrama at second hand. It never takes one out of the realm of the intellect. Houghton has bits of fine writing -- and bits of too fine writing.