WOLF TRAP by Frederick Nolan


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The Rudolf Hess mystery, assassination schemes against Hitler, the killing of Reinhard Heydrich, spy-hunts and special missions: this overlong, unfocused WW II thriller (1940-42) often reads like a lumpy medley of other writers' Nazinovel ideas--with Nolan (The Algonquin Project, The Mittenwald Syndicate) never quite deciding which subplot to concentrate on. The steadiest story-line centers on Abwehr officer Paul Kramer, who has been secretly passing information to American spy Sam Gray; now, however, as Kramer is sent to Prague (getting involved in the partisan underground there), both the Gestapo and ruthlessly ambitious Heydrich have caught on to his treasonous doings--so Kramer will be trailed, trapped, and ultimately subjected to interrogation/torture. Meanwhile, quasi-allies Heydrich and Himmler are jockeying for power--with a common enemy in Canaris of the Abwehr, who's sure to be embarrassed by the exposure of Kramer as a traitor. Meanwhile, too, Sam Gray, over in America and England, is working on ""Wolf Trap,"" a UK plan (dead-ended, as it turns out) for the overthrow/assassination of Hitler. And, throughout, everyone is wondering about Rudolf Hess' abortive mission to England. Who was really behind it? Is it somehow connected to anti-Hitler schemings within Germany? What was Canaris' involvement? Is British Intelligence keeping secrets from the new OSS? Etc.--with occasional clumsy attempts to recap the confusion. ("" 'This is what I've got, General,' Sam said. 'The British helped the German secret service to get Hess out. There is a connection between that and a plot to overthrow Hitler. The British mount Wolf Trap. . . There is no mention of Hess. There can't be two simultaneous plots to depose Hitler going on in the German secret service. Therefore. . .' "") Finally, however, after some revelations about the anti-Nazi motivations in the backgrounds of both Kramer and Gray, the chaos does filter down-into a 1942 double-mission by Gray and the British: the rescue of captured agent Kramer (who chooses to stay behind with his underground love); and a revised ""Wolf Trap,"" now directed at Heydrich, the ""Butcher of Prague."" Sporadic tension, scene-by-scene competence--but much too character-thin and plot-busy for a broad suspense readership: only Nazi-tangle fanatics will stick around for the unsurprising unravelings.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's