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MURDER IN THE CHATEAU by Elliott Roosevelt

MURDER IN THE CHATEAU

By Elliott Roosevelt

Pub Date: July 9th, 1996
ISBN: 0-312-14375-3
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

 The flow of Roosevelt's posthumous novels (Murder in the Executive Mansion, 1995, etc.) continues unabated with this over- the-top excursion into surreal-absurdist plotting. It's June 1941, and Hitler is about to invade Russia, to the dismay of some of his highest officers. In the White House and elsewhere, a plan is being hatched, in deepest secrecy, to bring together for four days S.S. Colonel Artur Brandt; General Rousseau (of Vichy France); Eleanor Roosevelt--as proof of US good faith; Churchill's son Randolph--as the same for Britain; Kevin O'Neil, an Irish mercenary guarding Mrs. Roosevelt; Vicki Neustadt, Jewish and a member of the French Resistance; and General Erwin Rommel. They're all to gather at the chateau of Vivienne Duval in Vichy France--Mrs. Roosevelt and her group arriving by plane, submarine, and fishing boat. A protocol is to be drawn up formulating the boundaries and peace conditions that'll be activated once Hitler is either persuaded to agree--or assassinated. With everyone in place (Sarah Churchill substituting for her brother), there's not a dull moment, with walk-ons by Gertrude Stein and Josephine Baker; the murder of Brandt; the rape of Vicki and, as time is running out, the actual invasion of Russia rendering the whole mess null and void. With its endless rehashing of anti-Semitic horrors, unreal subplots, cardboard characters, and even intimations of romance for Eleanor, there's much more irritation than satisfaction here.