A shamir was a useful sort of dragon according to Hebrew legend. Heinz Karl was useful too. He was Dachau's wheeler-dealer, a victim who could put the screws on his persecutors, a middleman who could always...somehow...make ends meet, a man who bargained with death and always...somehow...won. ""Bodo"" Cohen, a fellow survivor, had worshipped him. And this is Bodo's story; the minor epic tale of their hunt for ""The Butcher of Dachau,"" Dr. Franz Kuhn. It's a postwar parable with Kuhn discovered in a different but parallel situation--a veterinarian's hospital with the patients marked for life or convenient extermination. And it's barbed with bitter comedy with Bodo involved with Kuhn's daughter and his neo-fascist son; Bodo imprisoned in a hospital kennel and making love to his bitchy keeper; Bodo discussing the merits of Christianity with the ex-""Butcher""; Bodo discovering the true, treacherous nature of his hero, the ""shamir"" Heinz Karl; Bodo vs conscience, Bodo and decision.... The author writes with a deceptive simplicity...there is a shriek in his laughter.