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The elephant of the title--pink, no less, about a foot high, and carved by FabergÉ--suddenly crops up in the city of the title and induces a genteel rush through East Germany and environs for a trove of rare objets which, like the pachyderm, were ripped off and squirreled away by the Nazis during WW II. Spearheading the recovery effort is art dealer Rupert Conway, about as elegant and worldly as one could hope for, and a phalanx of Austrian and German police inspectors. Sir Edwin Leather, a member of parliament for 30 years, gives it all a sophisticated patina. Everything about Rupert personally as well as the art he collects and markets is presented knowledgeably and in detail. ""White ground with red, pink, and yellow flowers, it [a china bowl] was Chelsea Red Anchor made in London in 1756. This collector's item of rare beauty served admirably to hold an array of pipes. He stuffed a medium-sized bulldog with his favourite tobacco, known for some obscure reason as 123 and blended by the Lewis family of St. James' Street. London SWI since 1787."" Alas, the pipes, foodstuffs, and other trappings pretty much bury a plot that peters out to a conclusion in which the principals whiz up and down autobahns in Porsches and Jensens and little else. At the height of the villainy one can't help wondering--what's for lunch?

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Dodd, Mead