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It is a thriller set in 1930s Brighton. The anti-hero of the novel, Pinkie Brown, is a teenage gangster whose attempts to cover his tracks lead to a chain of fresh crimes and to an ill-fated marriage to Rose, a waitress. Another central character is Ida Arnold, a kind-hearted and decent woman who is drawn into the action by a chance occurrence but who then proceeds to place herself at the centre of events.
Although ostensibly an underworld thriller, the book is also a powerful exploration of the nature of sin. This theme was related to Greene's own Roman Catholicism, which he explored further in other aspects of his work.
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