An updated version of the they-made-me-a-criminal Depression melodrama genre--from the author of the gruesome but more disciplined Deathwork. Eddie Macon, a one-time escapee, is in stir--the Texas State Prison at Huntsville--for 41 years, but he's no criminal. He and wife Chris, born to low-level poverty, married young and tried to fulfill their common dream of Eddie becoming a charter-boat fishing captain; but a child was born with lupus, medical bills set them back, eventually Eddie tried for a job with a pipe-laying oil outfit, and-when the oil foreman demanded bribes--Eddie got drunk, beat up the boss, and got arrested on drunk-driving and assault charges. . . which escalated fantastically. From then on, the novel is virtually all escape and chase. After serving four years Eddie devises an escape in the back of a truck carrying rodeo steers-he must make a four-day run of 108 miles across the nighttime desert to Mexico and safety. The escape works, the run begins, with Eddie attempting to run the equal of four Boston marathons in four nights. Eddie meets weird folks on his run while being pursued by Buster Marzack, known as The Hounder, a specialist in recapturing escapees. Will he make it to Mexico before Buster? McLendon inflates the agony, stretches the suspense paper-thin, lays on italics and exclamation points--but it's basically an old, old, simplistic story; and it was a good deal more gripping when it starred Paul Muni in stark, grainy black-and-white.