Once again, as in Hardcastle (1980) and earlier fiction, Yount doesn't have a very original, dramatic, or intriguing story to tell--yet he manages to hold the interest (with some waning towards the end) through his confident, stately, modulated prose. Macon ""Toots"" Henslee is a Southern hermit, a tree-house dweller and fisherman far removed from his past life as a Korean-war casualty and pensioner. He is no longer married. He catches his catfish and sells them to the local market on the river. He lets his hair grow long, and on rare occasions he ventures to a Nashville whorehouse for some fleshly relief. Then one day he finds on his treehouse step the scared, battered figure of Sally Ann--a country singer brutalized by her manager, whom she in turn injured; she also stole his suitcase, which turns out to contain $250,000 in fresh bills (payment for a prospective cocaine buy). And if Sally Ann is running for her life, she could hope to find no gentler rescuer than the solitary Toots. True, there is one action sequence here: the boyfriend's hoods track Sally Ann down; she and Toots escape. There's one sweetly comic one, too: Toots must buy himself new clothes before he can then selfrespectingly enter a department store to buy clothes for Sally Ann. But the thrown-together mismatching of Fate-tossed Toots and Sally Ann is this novel's basic, awfully-standard substance. And, even enlivened by Yount's genuinely superior writing, the upshot is predictable, ultimately a little disappointing--though engaging and pleasantly styled from page to page.