One of our significant writers of today has written a modern-styled novel that will demand attention whether the public finds it shocking, disturbing, moving, absorbing- or something of each. Be prepared for it to be difficult reading. The style is oddly diffuse, sometimes tortured, often oblique -- and at times pictorial, vivid, dramatic. But the substance of the text strikes home. Here are people any one of us might know, people who might be our neighbors, our friends. And Cozzens has cut through the outer trappings to reveal the buried emotions, the mental contrivings, the rationalizations, the confusion that combine to make up the whole man. He has laid bare a community, on the surface a reasonably normal functioning Jersey (?) town. Here is a respectable and revered firm of lawyers, here a doctor, here the wives and mothers and children, the brothers and sisters, here the politicians and their cohorts, here the new minister and the young woman he will marry, here the practised girl on the make and the silly sentimentalist who gets "caught" -- and here are the facts behind the facts of their multi-patterned lives. Three sparks light the fires:- a visiting city lawyer comes to investigate a somewhat tangled estate with conflicting demands of the heirs; a wastrel youth is brought to court by a town girl who accuses him of rape; a clergyman plans to request that the church endowment be transferred to a general diocesan fund for operation. Arthur Winner, junior member of the leading firm of lawyers, finds himself involved in all three cases, and as they bring new facts to light more and more people are implicated, and the reader fits the pieces together into a jigsaw puzzle of the townspeople and the principals in a complex two generation story, which holds one spellbound to the end. There are unforgettable scenes -- characters that will live always -- and no one person comes off unscathed. It's not a book to leave around for teenagers to pick up; there is much in it that will be compared to O'Hara and Ten And much that is as earthy, as bluntly outspoken as Clarison or Tom James. But it must not be dismissed -- for here is a profoundly honest piece of America.