A story of the evil and unhappiness that come to darken the once happy and normal Hallows family in a small town near Albany, N.Y. Anna Rudd, released from jail after serving 22 years for the murder of her husband in a fit of jealous rage, comes to live with her sister Hester, hoping for a chance to start a new life. She finds them concerned only for themselves, and when she turns to the daughter, Laura, for sympathy, she is instrumental in causing the breakup of Laura's engagement -- and the spread of the story all over town. In despair, Anna commits suicide, and the Hallows leave town, to find a new home elsewhere. The theme of the power and effect of evil is competently handled. Once Anna arrives, its shadow is cast over the Hallows, but had they been kinder, their misfortune would not have occurred. Written in almost childlike prose, and probably less compelling than some of his earlier books, this has unexpected depths, less obscurity, and its everyday, contemporary setting adds appeal.