Volume IV of the author's series of parables called Signs of the Times is not a well posted notice. The previous books jumped at you from the morning headlines. Smith and Jones (1963), on defectors and A Fair Day's Work (1964), labor relations. This one is more like a feature story buried on page three of something like the National Enquirer. Carter, it seems, had everything to hide. The steady victimization to which the middle aged clerk submits at the grubby hands of a teen aged girl is incomprehensible until the last chapter. In giving shelter to what he believes is a friendless, pregnant, runaway, Carter is really acting under the pressure of his own guilty secret. She delivers and then smothers her child and gets away while Carter betrays himself in a series of stupidities initiated by his own fear, for he has murdered too. The meaning is anybody's guess, but Monsarrat can write up a storm of nervous tension -- even when he fails to provide a place for reader sympathy/empathy to go.