Not a crime story, but a study in crime, which because of the stupidity and superficiality of the central character, is lethargic and tedious. The author's aim is to delineate the rather subtle psychological intricacies preceding and following the initial crime, but his blockhead protagonist is barren soil. He is a barber in a large English city who has an opportunity to steal two hundred pounds and does so. The theft leads to murder on the night of a great fire, and from then on it is a gradual process of self-exposure to the police. Some good external descriptions of the city, the fire, the slums and near-slums, but the vain egocentric, violent barber hardly justifies the attempt.