Books: The Why-He-Dunnit

THE FALL OF A SPARROW (309 pp.)—Nigel Balchin—Rinehart ($3.75).

Jason Pellew, war hero and Cambridge man, is in jail, charged with passing bad checks, hocking his godmother's possessions, stealing a car, selling off furniture from an apartment lent him by a friend. As the book's narrator blurts, straight off: "What I want is some understanding of why it all happened—why an otherwise honorable man should suddenly act like a criminal and a cad." In a booklong flashback British Novelist Nigel (Mine Own Executioner) Balchin attempts just that, providing a prime example of that literary...

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