Books: Shocking Rover Boy

THE MOTH (373 pp.)—James M. Cain —Knopf ($3).

In The Moth, Hollywood's hoary old sensation-monger James M. Cain tells the story of a nice boy—nice, that is, by comparison with other guys he has written about. Mr. Cain's new hero has a sense of beauty and even a sense of guilt. His missteps, including fraud, adultery, a few burglaries and one stickup, are practically forced upon him by the Great Depression. Thus Mr. Cain has it both-ways: his boy can be a college-educated, clean-cut young American and at the same time do the tough...