Books: Hands Across the Sea

BEYOND THIS PLACE (316 pp.)—A. J. Cronin—Little, Brown ($3.75).

When Ulsterman Paul Burgess asked his mother to show him his birth certificate, she only hemmed & hawed. When Paul persisted, she sagged at the knees, confessed that his real surname was Mathry and that his "dead" father was actually serving a life sentence for killing a prostitute. Paul was stunned: he remembered his pa as a jolly fellow who cut paper boats, not ladies' throats. Afire to clear the old man, Paul hotfooted it to the English industrial town of Wortley, the scene of the crime.

So begins A. J. Cronin's new novel,...

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