Books: Mild & Bitter

THE DAFFODIL SKY (256 pp.)—H. E. Bates—Little, Brown ($3.50).

Like the clipped and guarded conversations overheard on British trains, the short stories of H. E. Bates are calculated to baffle the eavesdropper.

Long acknowledged as a master craftsman in an exacting trade, Bates writes with an English sense of place and social pattern; his prose often carries the gleam of England's pale sunlight. The title story is a neatly cut account of murder, told obliquely and in retrospect. A farmer kills the man he suspects of seducing his bride. Returning home after serving his sentence, the farmer finds his daughter now almost the...

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