This intricate generational saga has all the distinguishing characteristics of its genre: murder, lust, and venality carefully hidden beneath a veneer of responsibility and success. Former U.S. senator Ebeneezer Swallowgreedy, tyrannical, clever, and risen from povertyis founder of a Pacific coast shipping line. His is the generation that amasses wealth and power; his children's, the generation that through disdain or disinterest loses them; and their children's, the generation that must begin again. The novel focuses on Swallow's granddaughter, Claire, opening with the failed suicide attempt of Claire's husband and then moving fluently back and forth in time. Kalpakian is skillful, her main characters full-bodied, but the novel is ultimately for readers diverted by long, disastrous family stories with many characters, secrets, and plot twists. Kalpakian authored Fair Agosto and Other Stories ( LJ 2/1/87). Marcia Tager, Tenafly, N.J.