THE JUDAS KISS by Norman Katkov


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 Behind the lines in Nazi Vienna (and the requisite far-flung locales): a flatly politicized romantic triangle from the bestselling author of Blood and Orchids (1983). When he rescues her from a clash between the Landswehr and a witless mob of demonstrators in 1937, strong-willed Carlotta Siefermann falls in love with Jewish theatrical architect Nick Gallanz--a bad choice, since Nick and his Zwischentheater, a troupe that's turned from the classics to radical political satire, are about to become victims of the Anschluss. Even as they're being hunted down by a maniacal misfit called Der Chineser, though, Carly is protected by Nick's romantic rival--wealthy, bored sybarite Baron Fritz von Gottisberg, driven to politely suppressed fury when Carly rejects his advances. It seems Fritz will have the last laugh when Carly offers to marry him in return for a safe conduct to Italy for Nick and his family, especially since Fritz plans to have them all murdered at the border. But Nick escapes and flees to Hollywood, where he pushes his way to the top as an independent producer, making beautiful, truthful movies like Maiden Voyage and alienating the powers that be by turning down the chance to produce Domino--little realizing that this saga of the heroic woman who's smuggling downed Allied pilots back to England and France is based on the exploits of Carly, whom he's still convinced set him up even as she keeps writing to him, every letter intercepted by Fritz's minions. And despicable Fritz, recoiling tepidly from his Nazi masters and his disloyal wife, has nothing to do but wait for the inevitable advance of the Russians and the return of Nick, planning to scout locations and kill both Baron and Baroness. Katkov's syncopated prose and abrupt cuts forward make this read like a movie script, and maybe you should wait for the miniseries-- even though its dramatic tension, like the novel's, is bound to depend a lot less on the cartoon characters than on historical hindsight.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1991
ISBN: 0-525-93366-2
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1991