Rural local politics is taken for all its worth in this garrulous tale of the compulsive king-maker itch of a small town politico. Barney Condon, who seems to have a finger in every political pie in Castle County, irked by his party's incipient endorsement of bland Buddy Forbes, the Governor's son, for Republican candidate for Congress, manages Jeff Fairfax to victory in the primary. Grace, once unhappily married, too much in love with Barney to marry him, catches the drippings from the embroilment, as Barney, tub thumping through the hinterlands, wheeling and dealing, unburdens his doubts as to the wisdom of it all. Underground issues such as anti-Semitism, and public showdowns on Vietnam add more turmoil, and Fairfax loses the election because of a lack of ""focus."" The author's occasional trenchant social savvy is unfortunately obscured by the clatterbang of commercial-novel machinery--the Irish wise-cracking operator (by The Front Page out of Mickey Spillane); the boozy confidences; the crispy corn-flake characters--but perhaps some time Miss Barry may decide to strike out on her own. . . . Crop rotation for familiar herd reading.