A total recapitulation of a French scandal in which a Simenon skeleton is clothed with more flesh and blood than in previous books. Here, with the breaking of the Ferohaux monopoly in Ubangi territory and its resultant financial empire, is the tempting eduction and capitulation of one Michel Maudet to bondage, hatred and finally murder. With the split between the Ferchaux brothers, Michel, who from the first has had to choose between his wife and the fortune the older brother Dieudonne, promised, gladly abandons his wife to accompany Dieudonne on his flight from justice. Refugeed to the Panamanian one, Dieudonne's hold on Michel is weakened by the boy's physical and maturing desires, is strengthened by the many hints of Michel's promised security. When an American woman's passing fancy lifts Michel's hopes, it is then that he realizes freedom is obtainable, and, after doubt, fear and distrust, he is at last ready to take a fateful step- and go cot-free. A three-rather than previously one-dimensional portrait of the peculiar psychological and temperamental twists that Simenon has made particularly his own.