Now and again Walpole introduces into his gallery a figure apart from the familiar cavalcade of characters which cross and recross each other's paths. He did it in The Man With the Red Hair -- and, years ago, in The Gods and Mr. Perrin. And he does it again in Captain Nicholas, story of a vagabond black sheep who turns up after ten years' silence, and disrupts a placid, well-ordered London household, tearing apart their ideals of honesty and goodness and simplicity and affection. An emotional and intellectual sadist, he works by devious ways, to an end the reader -- but not the characters -- is enabled to foresee from the start. Not such pleasant reading as most of his books -- nor so gruesome as The Man With the Red Hair, but a brilliant bit of characterization, and an insidious bit of social commentary.