A first novel by the author of the much argued The Outsider (1956) and Religion and the Rebel (1957) is based on the idea of a mass murderer in relation to society and is projected through the sudden friendship of writer Gerard Sorme and the wealthy homosexual Austin Nunne. Intrigued by Nunne, Sorme breaks out of his life of inaction, becomes a part of that circle which has known Nunne for years -- Father O'Mahoney, Dr. Stein, Oliver Glasp, a tortured artist, Nunne's aunt, Gertrude Quincey, and her niece Caroline -- and- with the fifth and sixth killings of a pathological murder- is forced to consider Nunne as the criminal and refine his decisions about him. In the discussions of the man-god theories, the illness of the soul, the pressures of non-existence, boredom, and sadism, Sorme at first finds he can condone Nunne's actions. But after hearing Nunne's confession and belief that he can never be convicted and seeing the body of his latest victim, Sorme faces the fact of Nunne's insanity and knows that the maddened killings are a denial of the future and the dignity of man. The symposium ranges from O'Mahoney's religious views, Stein's scientific approach, Gertrude's family feelings, and Sorme's existentialist attitude, to the inclusion of classic murder cases. This pursuit of the inception and idea and achievement of murder has that morbid attraction of Compulsion. Beyond its echoes of Oscar Wilde, Huysmans, Graham Greene, is the voice of current protest, and, with its subject and its author, this makes a powerful combination- sex and sexuality, perversions.