An allegory of the struggle between good and evil, in which Eliot Nailles, a chemist, meets Paul Hammer, who is not the ordinary citizen he seems to be. "We're the Hammers," The stranger said to the priest. Nailles did not think this funny, anticipating the fact that almost everyone else in the neighborhood would. How many hundreds or perhaps thousands cocktail parties would they have to live through, side by side: Hammer and Nailles." Hammer is the illegitimate son of a kleptomaniac, and he plans to awaken the suburban world – by burning Eliot's son Tony in a church.
A study of the elaborate personalities that develop within prison walls, and their tenuous relation to prisoners' past lives and crimes. A convicted drug addict and murderer adapts to the gloom, fascination and eroticism of the new camaraderie.