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Reported originally in the February 15th bulletin, this was postponed to the above date as a mid-summer selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. The original report ran as follows: "Not to be associated with Graham Greene's earlier works (Brighton Rock, The Confidential Agent, The Ministry of Fear, etc.) this is a novel of considerable seriousness and stature in which the sensational brilliance of his previous writing has been subdued by sincerity, by compassion, and by a strong sense of faith. But with no sacrifice of narrative momentum, this pursues the theme of good and evil in its ultimate implications, portrays the corruption of a man by a worldly- rather than a final-judgment. This is the story of Scobie, whose austere integrity has remained above question during his fifteen years' service as Assistant Police Commissioner in a West African coastal town, has brought him few friends and many enemies. Bound by a sense of responsibility to his work, to his wife, Louise, for whom he feels only pity and the pathos of her unattractiveness, Scobie becomes the victim of that pity when to give Louise a fresh start- he borrows the money for her passage from a Syrian, Yussuf. Falling in love again, this time with a childlike widow of nineteen, Scobie again finds that passion dies away, that only pity is left, and his indiscretion exposed to the malevolent Yussuf- he becomes an object of blackmail. In a descrescendo to dishonor which leads from doubt to deceit, indirectly to murder, Scobie commits the unforgivable sin in the tenets of his Catholicism, suicides, but in so doing finds the renunciation of his life... A book which offers a variety of virtues- in its external drama, in its satiric subtlety as it is directed against the insular, colonial scene, and in its relentless portrayal of a man destroyed by the strength of his conscience rather than the weakness of the flesh. For an adult, appreciative audience.
Pub Date: July 12th, 1948
ISBN: 0140283323
Page count: 264pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1948


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