Another departure for Townsend, but in a different direction from that of his enigmatic Forest of the Night (1975). In fact, the difficulty here is oversimplification of characters and issues. Except for the vaguely upbeat ending (a promised rescue from abroad), this resembles those topical adult novels about The Bomb or falling dominoes which attract wide attention as scenarios of disaster but are awkward and thin as fiction. It takes place in a very near future--too near reality (especially for British readers) to be dismissed--when inflation becomes so wild that price tags change daily, money becomes worthless and food almost impossible to come by, and those increasing numbers who are not ""in work"" near starvation. But Barry's autocratic, shopkeeper father prides himself on having anticipated conditions, having moved his family into a remote, forbidding house which, Barry gradually discovers, he is stocking with canned goods purchased (like the house) with borrowed money. The morality of hoarding while others go hungry is debated repeatedly, with various characters representing a range of viewpoints, but the argument is never developed as the story proceeds to a free-for-all ending with father and sons standing watch behind sandbags, three different raiding parties colliding on the same night, and the precious supplies carded off at last by the fiercest of them. Family members and their relationships are heavily outlined as are the moral positions, and though Barry's dilemma has obvious relevance for all of us hoarders, Townsend's easy certainty discourages exploration.