A dazzling display of the superb craft of this British writer, who miraculously catches the flint of irony, the shaft of horror, concealed in the doings of a variety of seedy beings, unaware in their inner isolation, of the terrors without. Mr. Trevor's subjects are, in general, middle-aged to elderly (the one exception, a beleaguered child, appears in the least successful story, all about the miserable child-victim's horrible revenge). A polite, timid little spinster is eased into a reputation as a mad woman; a rakish old retired General, aloft on a grand outing, limps home drunk, to contemptuous laughter; a recluse, in attempting to be understood beats on closed doors; two lonely, loveless people trade insults and wring out their bitterness through a long night; an alcoholic lady at a cocktail party speaks truths while an incredibly tiresome bachelor loses another shred of stability. Propelled by an almost innocent conviction of the rightness of their tiny, futile and often unpleasant ways, these are outcasts from a powerful, ruthless, pitiless society, geared to eradicate any alien movement, and a world where love is "only a flash on the brittle surface of nothing." Except for the moments when a surfeit of horror pops a seam (very few), these are masterworks all.