A novel with a purpose, this- that purpose to expose ""the heartless light"" of publicity at any price, even the life of a child. Here is a close-up, play by play, of what happens when a kidnapping case becomes public property. A four-year old girl disappears from her own front driveway. A curious neighbor cannot bear not to know why the gathering of police -- and tips off a news gatherer with a broadcasting station. The fat's in the fire. One thing leads to another, as the ineptness of a small California town police chief leaks the story; the press, photographers, radio stations, sob sisters et al gather like vultures. The distraught mother, grimly concealing her self- blame and distress behind a false front of calm; the father, a radio personality who lives a distorted life of the unreal he deals with- and who is separated from his wife; the one decent person on the police force, a detective with a heart- and the rest of the cast a motley of self-seekers- anything for a story, anything for the limelight- combine to make recovery of the child and a solution to the mystery almost impossible. The novel is so minutely detailed, the characterizations so merciless, the undercurrent of false goals, double-dealing and artificiality so unpleasantly factual, that one finds oneself reading it as one would a case history, rather than a novel. It lacks the compassion that saved The Last Angry Man. Green's one really significant book.