Books: Sergeant Shows His Stripes

THE SERGEANT (254 pp.) — Dennis Murphy—Viking ($3.50).

In this spare, direct first novel by a 25-year-old Californian, the members of the triangle are less interesting than the author's skill at triangulation. The draftee hero is clean-cut enough to be a sidekick of Frank Merriwell. The girl is sweet enough to grace a soap ad. And the bedeviled antagonist is the victim of an unconscious drive that makes him pathetic rather than villainous. Yet this is the kind of book that demands to be read at one sitting: the people may not be important,...

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