The author of this hasty tale about a black girl passing for white in 1960 east Texas skimps on character but is lavish with executions; what with an axing, a poisoning, a strangling, death via quicksand, and a whooperdo of a fire that cancels out most of the town's population, one rather loses sight of the more subtle motivations involved. Leah, because she looks ""white,"" is given over, by a sacrificing mother, to a white parochial school where she boards and ""passes"" successfully. But she's lonely and insecure, even when she marries white medical student Jennings in St. Louis and returns with him to his boyhood Texas home, where she seems to be accepted by the old families and old pals. However, there are warning signals, like remarks dropped or the glare of mulatto Perry, a handsome giant married to a homely white woman: Perry, Leah knows, KNOWS. And there's real call for alarm when Jennings' old buddy Joe Billy, angered by Leah's refusal to get Jennings to abet him in an insurance fraud, begins some St. Louis research. So Leah doctors Joe Billy's pills with lye, but they're taken instead by his wife, sexy Doris Jean--and from the time Leah races to rescue Doris Jean (and finds her cohabitating with Perry), it's one horrid death after another, while some town scum lay out gasoline and gunpowder to avenge an unrelated stabbing by a black man. Gore galore, with Leah and Perry drawn closer and closer together as everyone else in sight gets killed off, You may not be able to ken the genealogy of all the town kin, and they're a thin lot, but the retribution comes with a bang after all that whimpering. A familiar, delicate theme, played here on a bass drum--slick, melodramatic, insensitive.