Books: They Stole Crosses

THE SECRET GAME (187 pp.)—Francois Boyer—Harcourt, Brace ($2.50).

To write convincingly about a child's reaction to violence is one real test of a novelist's skill. A few novelists have done it surpassingly well, notably Englishman Richard Hughes in his classic High Wind in Jamaica. Frenchman Francois Boyer, a 30-year-old movie scenarist, does not match his predecessors in The Secret Game, but his story is so ingenious that it obscures the fact that he does not entirely succeed.

Nine-year-old Paulette had seen her parents killed when Nazi planes machine-gunned a refugee column in France. Death was an intimate presence: a "big wolf" in the...

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