CAPTAIN WUNDER by Donald Thomas


Email this review


Heavily atmospheric, early 1900s spy-melodrama--set among the ponderous stone glories of Berlin, London, and Dublin. Captain Wunder is the stage name for Captain Richard Gaudeans--a balding, fox-faced little man who was once cashiered out of a British regiment in Africa and now works as a Houdini-style escape artist in a sleazy Berlin circus-theater. Someone has just sabotaged Gaudeans' submerged coffin trick and nearly drowned him. Why? The answer has something to do with the Irish Problem in Britain (the assassination of Peirce Mahony and of Sir Arthur Vicars by Irish rebels). But it has even more to do with Colonel Lindemann, Germany's chief of Military Intelligence--who's been ordered to thwart the expanding British naval power. Lindemann thinks Gaudeans may be the man for this job; so he tests him by having him crack the impossible Kromer safe, then hires him to steal the state-guarded Mahony jewels in Dublin (and assigns him beautiful assistant Tonia Schroeder). The object of the theft is for German Military Intelligence quietly to return the jewels to King Edward as a warning against Britain's naval belligerence. And so it goes--with impregnable safe (in Dublin), key-switchings, and rooftop escape. But Wunder/Gaudeans finds himself tricked by British Intelligence, beaten and jailed by the Germans, and then playing the double-agent game, selling German secrets to the highest bidder. . . . Solid suspense, raffish humor, smart period touches: an effective diversion for lovers of capers in historical dress.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1981
Publisher: Viking