Psychiatrist Gardiner, who has spent a lifetime working with disturbed children, has written a soft-spoken account of ten children who committed ""crimes of passion"" or the far fewer motivated by ""material gain."" There are only eight cases since two of the desperate acts were committed in conjunction with a friend or a sibling. Virtually all the children derived from economically and emotionally underprivileged circumstances, and while this is ""a book of questions, not of answers,"" the answers are directly attributable to dreadful home situations. Only one boy, George, came from an intact family but then his mother was unendurably overprotective. The most moving are the portraits of Peter whose mother said ""he's never given me a day's joy"" before he killed her and his twin sisters; and Tom, third of eleven children, sickly, deformed, hungry, shunted from an orphanage to an uncle who killed the thing he loved, his cat, before Tom retaliated. Then there was Mark with a bad-tempered stepfather (there are worse stepfathers than stepmothers here) who redirected his own desire to die. All terrible rather than horrible (Dr. Gardiner does not exploit her material), these stories speak for themselves and address the conscience as well as the heart.