Again, as in All Good Men, the dramatis personae are drawn from the ranks of second and third generation Irish Catholics, but in this brooding, bitter novel, the author dwells bleakly on the fate of those who would live outside the dictums of the Church. Ice-beautiful Dolores Blair, tied by sacred vows to her brutal husband Buddy, and loving Jake O'Connor, whose father's political power was broken by Buddy's father, the Major, finds the prospect of a sanctioned divorce or separation dim. Political careers Jake's and Blair's -- might atrophy from scandal, and the Church does not consider mere hatred and fear grounds for annulment. In spite of the efforts of Father Paul, brother of Jake, to act as a creative agent of the Church -in praying for his dying mother's recovery and effecting a reconciliation between Buddy and Dolores-- the forces of binding love are scattered, and at the close there is dissolution and death. Dolores, numbly accepting the will of the Church, is killed, and Father Paul loses his faith. Some exceedingly effective scenes -- the house of torment where a selfish, frightened woman dies surrounded by aging ""vultures""; a noisy meeting of the Rosary Society; father and sons flinging out raw emotions at the mother's wake. However, the point of the book is blunted by the vacuity of the heroine and the sound of living is somewhat muffled by the hum of grinding axes. A controversial piece -- in a sensitive handle with care.