Five stories- four novella-length, one almost a short short-and all bearing witness to Waltari's rare gift as a spinner of tales. Unpleasant as most of them are, violent, sometimes obscene, they are never negligible. Many are told in the first person, even one in which the ""I"" is a girl. Somehow he seems to get inside the skin of the women of his stories more than he reveals the men. And an unsavory lot they are, with queer aberrations, excesses, abnormalities. Youth appears in strange guise too, misunderstood, thwarted, distorted by adult lack of comprehension, but oddly appealing in its very strangeness. There is in the last story only a sense of a devastated, war-ridden world, and that story is symbolic of the passing of a world, the period of climax ""before the twilight of the gods"". Helsinki and its environs provides most of the background.