This novel in the form of a biography is a marvelous idea, cleverly executed. Martin Crystal, a leading novelist, dies, and his publisher asks his life-long friend, an important critic, to write his biography. Reluctantly the critic agrees to do so, and we learn not only a lot about the novelist, but unintentionally- even more about the critic. We follow their youth in the small English town of Cranwyck, their first loves (for the same girl- if in different ways), their college life, Martin's unhappy marriage, the critic's successful career as editor of a literary magazine, the war, and finally the crisis through which Martin passes and from which he emerges as a first-rate writer. The critic betrays himself in his envy of Martin at every turn, in his attempts to impede the success which he cannot and Martin does achieve, and suspense is aggravated by the suspicion that we may be in the presence of a murderer... A first novel, which is a precise transcription of the literary world from which it derives and which affords an indirect and caustic entertainment.