A pattern of delinquency forms the center of this sprawling, curiously nightmare novel. When Fred Wheetwright seeks refuge with his brother Ralph and his wife Catherine he sets in motion the wheels which grind out destiny for Catherine's sister, young Jessie. Catherine's ambition to achieve a certain income so she can adopt a baby persuades her to out pin-ball machines in their store, Fred seduces Jessie and his unsavory friends move in with their rackets. At first Jessie promises her baby to Catherine out when the publicity turned on by the radio, for her marriage to Fred, gets too loathsome, she takes Bobby and hits the road. Work in squalid roadside joints and hotels leads to her association with Warren Leroy and from then on it is a question of existence through lawlessness, of money through stealing, murder any means at all. And it is the law of the gun which ends their progress through some of the lower depths. An insistent nervousness, a layer by layer dissection of Invale's social levels, and a penetrating probe into the lives of those outside the law give this a seriousness which is marred by its distorted soliloquies and near-hysteria. Public libraries and most readers can bypass this.