Set in the frame of the release from prison of, Max Harper a youth charged with manslaughter, and saved by a reprieve coming when the executioner committed suicide, this tells the story that led up to an act of violence, and explores the psychological twists and turns in the life of a boy born to poverty as son of a tenant farmer in Kentucky. Possibly it is intended as a sort of variation on the theme of The way of all Flesh. The story has been written in prison as the victim of circumstances reviews his own life. Crippled-club-footed- his was from the start a pattern of compensation, retarded by his bitter resentment of Vance, son of the plantation owner, who taunted and used him. He was schooled in sustaining this resentment and hatred by an old man at the poorhouse where his mother was cook. But the old man also gave him an appreciation of the things of the spirit -- along with distrust of the rich. His chance came when he inherited his drunken father's Job at the lumbermill on the plantation -- and his chance was lost when he was party to a grand deception against the insurance company that paid for an operation on his crooked foot. Here was a spiritual crippling -- worse than the other, and when Vance taunted him with the half knowledge of what had happened, he turned on him and killed him. There is more to the pattern of the plot than indicated here, but the exploration of motives that distorted a life supplies the dominant theme. It doesn't quite succeed -- and Phillips, in this his fourth novel (the others published Rinehart) still fails to live up to what we had felt was real promise.