Narcotics' addiction has been an aspect of a good many books. This is the first one I have seen in which it is the overwhelmingly dominant theme. And it is handled so that the reader virtually lives each step of the way as an innocent person, whose life holds no ray of hope, is deliverately made into an addict. Chicago's underworld of young people, with all the counts against them; middle aged, who can't pull themselves out of the muck; old people, whose last hope has faded. The story is almost incidental to the expose of the tragedy of addiction, of pushers, perverts, prostitutes, crooks, gangsters, small and large -- and of the few, the very few, in authority who care enough to risk unorthodox means to help. The plot revolves around young Nick Romano, illegitimate son of a ""pretty boy"" crook who died in the electric chair, and of Nellie, who wants to pull herself up out of the slum where they live and give him a chance to be better than his father. And then the man she gets involved with turns her into an addict to hold her. Young Nick has a tiny group of men -- no better than the others around them- except for this one goal they have,- to save Nick and help him be himself. Four men on one boy -- a slender reed. And then there's the cop, Forbes, who believes in him, and twice saves him at strategic moments when society is against him. And there's Grant, a writer, who had known his father -- and who was investigating the drug racket- and Grant's daughter, Barbara, who sees beyond the things that set Nick apart from what she has known. There's little of hope and much of desperation in the story. Motley lets his role as a crusader smother his story again and again. But in final analysis- if the reader can go the course- both story and crusade come through.