Once again Harnett Kane has chosen a dramatic and somehow mysterious figure in New Orleans' history as protagonist for a biographical novel. In any day, John McDonogh's career would have been sensational. Sent down from Baltimore to make contacts for a firm of importers, he stayed on, built an enormous fortune through canny real estate deals, and became one of the most powerful men economically speaking in the development of the glamorous city which he had somehow failed to make his own. His personal relationships were few and tenuous- to the outside world. He had perhaps three close friends among the socially prominent Creoles; but to most of them he was an outsider, a figure of fun because of the abortive romance with New Orleans' greatest heiress. He antagonized his younger brother, because he couldn't resist ruling his life -- and preaching against the wickedness of the city. He fell in love with Susan Johnston, and because she loved him she hoped their marriage would be possible until be balked at accepting her religion. He lost her to the Church when she became an Ursuline nun. His contradictions, the secret behind his miserliness, his inner conflicts are convincingly portrayed to the reader, but until his freeing of his slaves and aiding their establishment of a colony in Liberia, the city did not know what he planned. And until his death, only his closest associates knew that his wealth would go to establish what has proved the nucleus of Louisiana's free school system. Harnett Kane -- with each successive novel- grows more adept in characterization and plot development. Always, he has been skilful in recreating the background against which his story is played- this time the colorful 19th century of New Orleans, in turns the somnolent Spanish, French, the bustling American city.