At first, Bennett's fourth novel has the appearance of regional writing. The place is a small Negro town in the segregated south in the '40's. The characters are as charming and eccentric as Grandpa Brittain whose children sharecrop his land while he lazes with his favorite mule, named Cora after his wife; Cora's life is a pitched battle with the schoolteacher/storekeeper over whose skin is lighter; their daughter Dolores has a fantasy life as Miss Shirley Temple; and the narrator Kevin Brittain is a canny little boy who observes keenly but says very little beyond the requisite yassir, nossir. But as the story builds, humor is undercut by the sense of hopeless poverty and oppression, and then horror as Kevin's family is beset by accidental deaths -- or are they? Bennett has left a trail of clues leading straight to the family matriarch, who knows what's best for her own. A profligate but profound (maybe too much so) minister, a Christlike white idiot (yes, they crucify him), and a deranged law 'n' order Irish cop help to bring Kevin to an understanding of his race: ""Isn't the black man who dies violently a black hero -- a Big Nigger -- because he dares to imitate the tactics of the enemy?"" Tends to ponderous statement, but readable and absorbing.