An interesting student-teacher relationship is the focus of this short, in some ways slight, novel. Juliet Lamar finds the unorthodox instructional methods of her writing teacher, Mr. Connor, both revealing and mystifying. Ever the poseur, Mr. Connor drives his classes to do good work, but he hides behind a series of facades that keep his students intrigued and in the dark. Bereft of her divorced father, Juliet comes to trust and confide in Mr. Connor, undeterred by his sarcastic and manipulative nature. When he chooses Juliet for a ""psychodrama""--a private game of nerves to be played out in the arena of the classroom--she finally faces up to the teacher and learns the horrible secret of his need to undermine the trust of others, somewhat murkily related to a disastrous episode as a tortured prisoner-of-war in Vietnam. A psychologically taut premise here, but the characters aren't fleshed out enough to make the reader care about them--and the rest of Juliet's life is so sketchily portrayed that the final result is disappointingly weak.