In turn of the century Indiana, housemaid Hilda Johansson is concerned about her 12-year-old brother Erik. Recently arrived from Sweden, the boy has trouble settling down, and his restlessness adds turmoil to Hilda's family life. They are already displeased that she is seeing Patrick Cavanaugh, an Irishman and a Catholic to boot.

When one of Erik's friends runs off to join the circus, Hilda worries that Erik will do likewise. She helps the police trace the missing boy, who is found beaten and abused; his tormentor is still at large.

Hilda overwhelming concern for Erik cause her personal and professional life to deteriorate. When a boy is murdered and Erik finds himself in grave jeopardy, Hilda will sacrifice everything for him.

Jeanne M. Dams paints a dazzling, realistic portrait of life among immigrants in turn of the century America. Although the mystery is slow to unravel, it packs quite a wallop, heightening the stark reality of the story. (Jul., 240 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg