A regional tale spinner (see The Fish Hawk's Nest and others) turns again to his own New Hampshire boyhood for an experience that, with embellishments, makes a mystery thriller. Chuck Randall and Barney Burke are friends and 14. Chuck's father is the bookkeeper at the mill in Quimby and one day their lives are changed by the arrival of a stranger in town- Tex Hawley-a romantic figure from the West. Events lead up to a crooked horse race in which Tex is the winner and further- to his attempted robbery of the mill before Chuck, captured by Tex- escapes to warn the authorities and is awarded a gold watch for his efforts. Good atmosphere and Meader's steady narrative ability recommend an otherwise routine cops and robbers story.