The author of Boston Adventure with a second novel reenforcing her claim to attention on the score of ability to write well. But where many found Boston Adventure peculiarly satisfying in its muted emotional power, The Mountain Lion may leave them shuddering a bit at this writer's coldly analytical dismemberment of the mysteries of childhood and adolescence. As I read of Molly and Ralph, misfits in a household where pretensions of gentility mattered more than the realities, and of how they found themselves in the freedom of their uncle's Colorado ranch, I found myself contrasting the bitterness of this tale with the poignance of Rumer Godden's The River. There's a fragmentary quality -- a capturing brief months of childhood at its most tragic period of growth -- an ability to leave on the memory sharp images -- that links the two books. But where The River, in its very paucity of emphasis on the emotional levels, stirred me profoundly; The Mountain Lion managed to transfer its bitterness, to leave me with a bad taste in the mouth, but with a certain callous indifference. Nonetheless, once again one acknowledges that Jean Stafford is a writer to watch.