What happened to the formula for the nerve gas manufactured and stockpiled by the Nazis in WW II, but never used? That's the...

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THE LINZ TATTOO

What happened to the formula for the nerve gas manufactured and stockpiled by the Nazis in WW II, but never used? That's the intriguing idea here, and Guild (Chain Reaction; The Berlin Warning) serves it up in an action-packed, fast-moving but often implausible and uncompelling narrative. In 1948, Inar Christiansen is tracking down SS Colonel Egon Hagemaun, who murdered his parents and razed his hometown during WW II. He learns that Hagemann is searching for Esther Rosensaft, his wartime Jewish mistress/ slave; the trail leads to Vienna, where Esther languishes in a Russian prison. There Christiansen is contacted by Mossad agent Mordecai Leivick: Hagemann, it seems, is now dickering with the Syrians over the nerve-gas formula secretly developed at Waldenburg concentration camp when Hagemann was commandant. So Christiansen joins forces with Leivick--on condition that he claims Hagemann after Leivick secures the formula. In the last days of the war, Hagemann's boss General von Goltz saved Esther from the final slaughter of Waldenburg's inmates; he also, belatedly, gave her a peculiar camp tattoo--on the wrong arm! Could this tattoo be one key to the whereabouts of the formula? Oh, yes. But first Esther has to be sprung from prison; she'll then be used as bait to tempt Hagemarm--who has the other key and knows all about the trap. A churning but obvious thriller, then, after Ludlum rather than Le Carr‚, with a flimsy, often absurd plot, and no tension at all even in the rapid accumulation of dead bodies. Still, Guild takes a worthy stab at developing his characters, and drops hints--one or two insights, some scraps of dialogue, a few fragments of description--that he is capable of more thoughtful, better-constructed work.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1985

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985