This very short novel personalizes with searing simplicity the news story that is on every front page. It covers approximately 36 hours in the life of Will Harris, Negro, veteran, and would-be voter. In trying to register in his segregated town, he loses his job, is put on an employers' blacklist and loses what little hope he had. All this has gone mostly for the sake of his militant mother. He wants -- and with his fiancee's agreement decides -- to move away. On his way home from the girl's house, he is waylaid by three men in a car who have been cruising just for him. There follows a physical and mental beating that manages to describe sadism with no trace of sadistic relish -- with high tension achieved by even, low-keyed writing. Left for dead, Will begins the struggle to live and, to the novelist's everlasting credit, the probable conclusion is left in question with a reader hope that is as slim, powerful and tragic as the book itself. This will probably not get the attention it deserves at either the book-buyer level or in the performing arts, which could adapt it with no great effort but to great effect.