20 JANUARY 1961, Page 23

The Sailcloth Shroud. By Charles Williams. (Cassell, 12s. 6d.) Of

three men who sailed a ketch from Panama to the Texas coast, one dies at sea and another is murdered on land. The third is suspected by the police and beaten up by gangsters in a tough, trim tale that is ingeniously plotted and knowledgeable about coastwise boats. In spite of its come-on sort of title, The Man Who Followed Women, by Bert and Dolores Hitchens (Boardman, 12s. 6d.), is similarly know- ing about railway police and the mechanics of train robbery in the freight yards of the desert towns of Colorado. A sound, documentary read, as is Blood on the River, by William L. Heath (Jarrolds, 12s. 6d.)—a duel to the death between a fine old sheriff and a fine young Negro en- gaged in illicit liquor-running by Alabama river- boat. A tense, exciting, and beautifully written thriller. The same is true of Home is the Prisoner, by Jean Potts (Gollancz, 13s. 6d.). A well- balanced novel, its characters a good deal more three-dimensional than is usual in the genre, in which a man returns from imprisonment for manslaughter to meet wife, estranged son, and the girl who saved him from a conviction for murder. Less of a murder mystery than a study in the mystery of personality, but consistently persuasive, either way.