Peck (The Day No Pigs Would Die, 1973, etc.) takes another excursion into the rural past, this time to a small town in Depression-era Florida. Told from the points of view of several of the town's residents, this is mostly about Hiram MacHugh, justice of the peace of Hallapoosa, who has spent his uneventful life in the shadow of his younger brother Bobby, a star athlete in high school. As middle age advances, Hiram's life is full of small pleasures, including the Saturday night visits of Glory, a young girl half his age. But these visits, and other habits, abruptly come to an end with the notification that Bobby and his wife have been killed in an automobile accident, leaving their twelve-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter in his care. The arrival of these children, like stones dropped into a still pool of water, has ever widening effects. . .until the entire town is involved in a climax that includes a murder, a kidnapping, and the return--from the dead--of Bobby. A routine, predictable story in the familiar southern, rural slice-of-life vein--with characters who walk a thin line between archetype and stereotype--but Peck's language is a pungent, evocative pleasure here, and the book's a satisfying--if not particularly original--one.