THE TIN CRAVAT by Jack D. Hunter


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The third--and probably (but not certainly) the last--book about acerbic, dour German war-hero Bruno Stachel: a young WW I air ace (The Blue Max); an alcoholic, ambivalent witness to the Nazi rise (The Blood Order, 1979); and now, circa 1944, a deeply cynical, middle-aging observer of the Hitler-madness. Bruno himself, in fact, wears the Nazi medals (e.g., a Knight's Cross--the ""Tin Cravat"") and assumes a High Command arrogance. But behind this facade he views the German wasteland with despair and acid jokes. So it's not surprising that Bruno becomes involved in one of those many anti-Hitler intrigues: this one is ""Operation Nightstick,"" a scheme by Nazi official Lemmerhof to defect and give Eisenhower the secret plans of an SS last-ditch operation. Thus, super-pilot Stachel (who happens to be in the US--cf. The Blood Order) is chosen to fly the defector out of Germany: he and German nurse Elfi (a longtime crony/nemesis) must first sneak back to the Fatherland. But Bruno soon realizes that Operation Nightstick is a front, that doltish Lemmerhof is being controlled by someone else--none other than Martin Bormann, who wants Stachel to fly him to North Africa, the starting-point for travels that will lead to a Bormann-led Fourth Reich. Eventually Bruno and now-beloved Elfi do fly Bormann out, with a cache of gold--but (sure that Bormann intends to kill them anyway) Bruno suicidally invites US Mustangs to shoot him down over southern Germany. And so it seems as if Bruno (as well as Bormann and Elfi) is dead at the close . . . though it's just possible that Hunter may be planning to resurrect him for a postwar adventure. In any case, end of a trilogy or not, this is again a darkly humorous, grimly authentic entertainment for fanciers of offbeat Nazi-era fiction--appropriately downbeat, richly ambivalent, and carried along with crisp, tart dialogue.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1981
Publisher: Harper & Row