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Guy Owen is a poet and short story writer. This is his first novel. Set in backwoods North Carolina in the thirties Season of Fear is a skillfully written but grim and dismal story which could only take place in an unreconstructed section of the South. Clay Hampton is a bachelor over forty living with his mother and aunt on a farm from which he would wish ultimately to escape but which binds him in ways he can only partially understand. The depth of his desperately lonely situation becomes manifest through a number of events: his worthless brother returns from Florida with stories of high- living; Laurie Dell his 18 year old neighbor who has been devoting herself to enticing him marries his rival; and the countryside is ravaged by a drought. Half-crazed with religious mania Clay sees himself as the instrument of the Lord and determines that the sins of his neighbors can only be expiated through violence. He dynamites Laurie's husband's car half out of guilt for his own lust and half in the notion that the Lord has called him to take vengeance. Finally trusting in the possibility of Laurie's love he makes the fatal admission of his guilt, is hunted down, and killed by a Negro he befriended who did Clay the final kindness of putting him out of his misery. Though technically adept, Season of Fear is a long, detailed novel, -the final effect is only depressing.

Publisher: Random House