The Costain name and the Literary Guild selection are sufficient to get this off to a tremendous start. But it is important for librarians and booksellers to know that it bears none of the earmarks of the usual Costain, and that those who read Costain for his historical and period details will be disappointed. For here is a novel of the '90's; the place is a small town in Canada; the hero, an English boy, shipped off by an aunt who was fed up with him and wanted to break all ties; the story- the annals of his erratic rise, now helped, now hindered, in the town where his father had taken his own life, convinced that he was a hopeless failure. In the main, Ludar was in luck. A well-meaning, middle aged carpenter, who fancied himself an inventor on the side, took him under his wing, despite his hard-fisted scold of a wife. The town's leading citizens, believing in his legendary high estate, contributed to sifting the slim evidence- and came up with nothing until too late to matter. A cross section of the town, from magnate to madame, and the years that marked the turn of the century, provide a background for his upward climb- a sensational, and quickly quashed, involvement in what looked like murder, his success as a newspaper man, and the happy outcome of his romance. An unimportant book, in the Costain panel, readable enough but superficial in characterization and plot.