A haunting story of the poison of hate and revenge underlying the apparently peaceful external coating of an East Anglian country town. Swinnerton is at his best in creating atmosphere, in establishing a secret and insidious core of violence; and this reads like an unsuspected psychological mystery, as one follows the course of disintegration in the gentle and loving Jerome Grace. A happy little family is almost destroyed in the process, and for much of the story the ""woman from Sicily"" is an offstage character. The finale in which Swinnerton cheats a bit on his method of unraveling the mystery doesn't quite measure up to the balance of the tale. But at that, here once again is some of the magic of some of Swinnerton's earlier novels of character and atmosphere. The time is 1910-1914, and the shadow of war lies over the close.