the narrative details a sad and sympathetic downward spiral for the handful of characters involved in a bank robbery gone awry. Rendell, per usual, invokes each character with precise psychological acuity and, at times, an almost romantic sense of dignity. the central character, although thoroughly weak and misguided, is a particularly poignant creation. i feel sympathy for any ardent book-lover and dreamer trapped in relentless suburbia; his characterization is strong, maybe even tragic. overall, a typically masterful study of what happens when folks insist on rationalizing their way out of Doing The Right Thing.