It is five years- or close to it- since the inglorious Mudhen was introduced to readers more accustomed to finding Mr. Allen in his role as historian. And, frankly, we don't like John Crane, the Mudhen, any better today than we did then. Prep-school setting, glamourized and somewhat dated, where the lazy but ingenious Mudhen helps his roommate, Froggie set up a weekly school paper, The Walrus, and continues to dominate the wacky carryings-on in traditional inter-frat rivalry. There are shades of many another ""old school"" book here, with the all-wise headmaster, known as the ""Old Guard"" -- with our languid hero inspiring elaborate practical jokes, with the stiff-upper-lip and the twining-ivy sentiments. However, there's brisk dialogue, plenty of precocious chatter, and -- for the young high schooler -- acceptable horseplay.