There is something about an English colliery village that lures novelists down to the mines, a rather well-worn path by now, although Lawrence, Cronin, etc. did not completely exhaust the vein. Here is the colliery brought up to date in the person of Jackie Conlon, who remembers the day the bugles sounded for the dead of World War I, his father among them. Between the wars came the strikes-- the miners' fight for welfare socialism--which mingled with Jackie's nondescript career, a forced marriage, and little to do but collect the dole and spend it in the pub. In the Second World War Jackie took a gun and accidentally shot his way to heroism, returning home with the Victoria Cross and nothing else to hang his miner's shirt on. It was not enough to keep either his wife and child or a semblance of respect at his side. As the next day of the bugles sounds for the Korean soldiers, a sorrowful Jackie meets his grown son, an encounter that finally rounds the corners on the ""hero's"" fate. A straightforward narrative, complete with protagonist and an arresting supply of supporting characters in the Conlon family and the rest of the village-- good, old-fashioned fiction that is refreshingly human for a change, and with those mines involved, it can hardly fail.