While there's little more here than meets the startled eye, this short novel -- being no more than a 120-page incident -- caters (or is it panders?) to the low instinctual level of its characters who drift into a Sydney bar. Namely Peter Watts, a 17-year-old youngster, effeminate to the point where his gender is only a question of terminology, and John Verdon, a cattleman, who enjoys killing steer in the pen and does it well. Before the evening is over, with its purchased pleasures at the bar or upstairs, Verdon is said to have killed Peter justifiably only if he has committed rape, and excerpts from the trial to follow fail to establish just what happened in the bloodhouse. The novel also fails to establish just what the author had in mind -- realism outback-style, or gratuitous violence. In either case it's no more than flesh tartare.