This, another young novel that had to be written, has a naval airforce base in Florida during the Korean war as its locale, and a two-dimentional Jewish lieutenant from Harvard, who umbles into the investigation of a suicide at the base, as its central character. The book beings on a Tuesday and ends the following Tuesday, and it is annotated by a wealth of physical detail, carefully observed and remembered. There is a generous cast of types-with-a-difference, all going about the dismal business of coping with the messy and pathetic event. The homosexuality of the suicide (its genesis is narrated by his mother in a long, self-flagellating backward look) swallows the book in lieu of plot. But it also includes a good deal of what it is like to be in the Navy, to be a Negro, or to be a Jew, as well as the occupational pastimes grousing and womanizing. Mandel (The Breakwater- 1960- Holt) has a good ear and a good eye, virtues which may be invalidated for want of a satisfactory philosophy.