A welcome reprinting of a classic 1920 spy tale, the most celebrated of the 100-plus novels by Oppenheim (1866-1946).
Sir Everard Dominey and Maj. Gen. Baron Leopold von Ragastein, his old schoolmate at Eton, have eerily similar reasons for being in German East Africa when they meet by chance. Von Ragastein has killed Prince Conrad Eiderstrom, his lover Stephanie’s husband, in a duel and been banished by Kaiser Wilhelm. Dominey has taken himself away from his Norfolk estate to avoid the rumors that he murdered Roger Unthank, the lover Rosamund Felbrigg spurned before marrying Dominey—a man who’s been missing ever since the night he emerged from Dominey’s wooded grounds to attack him. But the two men have something even more remarkable in common: they’re dead ringers for each other. So it’s only natural that von Ragastein, ordered to establish himself in England in 1913 so he can worm himself into the confidence of Prince Maurice Terniloff, the peace-minded German Ambassador, and help the Kaiser prepare for war, should think of killing Dominey and taking his place. Once in England, Dominey (as both the hero and his author insist on referring to him throughout) faces daunting new challenges. His estranged wife offers to kill him, then insists that he’s not really Dominey. Princess Stephanie, instantly recognizing Dominey as von Ragastein, presses him to resume their affair. The Kaiser orders him to marry the princess. Otto Seaman, the German agent who supplies Dominey’s cover, improbably warns him about protecting Lady Dominey’s honor. And a visitor from Rhodesia brings news from Africa that Dominey very much doesn’t want to hear.
Grandly scaled old-school espionage, with the principals dressing for dinner, sipping port as they plot the ruin of each other’s nations, and their women importunate but unfailingly discreet. Genre buffs shouldn’t miss it; fans who read it years ago will be surprised how well it holds up.