The author of Nightmare Alley (1946) continues his probing portraiture -- this time in one ward of a TB hospital, -- and produces grim effects tempered by more human motivations, some gentler characters. Catalyst for the destinies of those around him is Ben, still fighting for his fellowmen, for the workers, nearer and nearer death. There is his love for Gallagher, one of the nurses, his determination to write before his strength goes, his ambition to make clear the battle of the little and the big men. Gallagher returns his love, and still tries to save young Dr. Crane from his vicious mistress, who is also boss politician, Hanlon's mistress. There is Dr. Rathbone whose stuffed shirtism is punctured by the death of prizefighter Wash after a rib section, by Ben's sudden death. There is an ex-grifter, a preacher, a foreign born taxi driver, a small time gambler, a terrorized Jewish merchant -- all in one way or another caught in the tragedy of Ben's dying, in the hope inherent in Crane's new found love for Gallagher. The depths of disease -- physical, moral and political -- make this something quite different than the usual hospital story, give it a sombre tone.