Winston Graham writes very elegant entertainments (the Hitchcock premiere of his last, Marnie, is about due) and this is an examination of murder, after the act, beyond the law, and within the conscience of the killer. Morris Scott, a playwright, has just had his first success, in which his wife Harriet, an older, proprietary, and driving woman , has been instrumental. Now, in Paris, where his play is also scheduled for production, he meets Alexandra Wilshere, young, lovely and reciprocally infatuated. The affair is anything but trivial; he plans to ask Harriet for a divorce; is momentarily slowed up by her illness: and on the night of the Paris opening, purely on impulse, he pushes her off a balcony to her death. It is accepted as an accident. This takes place midway through the book, the balance of which is spent in trying to rationalize and reconcile the ""act"" within and without the Church, with, or without, Alexandra, and finally in terms of just living...The backgrounds (London, Paris, the Riviera) are very attractive: the finale is sheer de Maupassant; and all of it provides a velvet-lined strait-jacket from start to finish.