Carlo Pierce, pastor of a small parish in Monterey, Calif., is beset by doubts about his ministry and about a relationship with his brother which ended 30 years before. Orphaned as young boys, Carlo and Steve were forced, as the condition of the adoption of one of them, to compete against each other in a race which Carlo lost. By some process of inverted thought Carlo is overriden by guilt and the dominance of the lost Stove. His life and ministry come to a climax in his identification of his brother and a young man, Matt Dana, in his parish whom he considers to have special gifts, and when Dana receives his draft notice Carlo Pierce preaches a strong pacifist sermon in his behalf, thereby alienating his parishioners. But Dana eludes the pastor by resorting to violence himself when he is personally provoked and in the ensuing melee he is killed. The event unmoors the pastor though at the same time it frees him and his last state, presumably, is more hopeful than his first. Every Island Fled Away is written in one of those rarefied, evocative styles which seem to promise more than they deliver. The result, though absorbing at times, is ultimately frustrating. Nor does the officious tone in which the subsidiary characters speak add to their credibility except as a consistent but irritating counterpoint to their pontificating pastor.