This does for the marginal case of mental deficiency what The Story of Mrs. Murphy did for alcoholism. In fiction form, the reader sees the unfolding of a pattern of abnormality -- a development away from the norm, an instability, an insecurity, an emotional and character deterioration with attendant alcoholism, in the person of Lacy, the younger brother who was ""different"". With Chris, the dependable, normal older brother, the reader goes through one upheaval after another; sees the effect on the family, the mother, who gives in again and again, the father who defends the boy and then goes to pieces over him, the brother, always summoned when things get too complicated to handle or conceal, and whose life is dominated by the threat on its periphery. And then there is Lacy, of whose anguish we are told, but who always seems to be a phantom figure, whose disturbances are seen but not wholly felt. There's a grim authenticity here, an indictment of a society that makes no provision for the case between the normal and the mad, of the evasions practised by authority, the buck-passing, the cruelty, the indifference. It is all very convincing, but somehow it reads like a case history, and the romance which is high-lighted on an irregular beat throughout never quite comes to life. An interesting but not fully realized book. Not for those to whom Dowdey's romantic historical novels hold appeal, though his deep rooted knowledge of Richmond and its development informs the background, the mood, the tempo for this story as well.