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Oh, those Ross Thomas plots. . . . This one, in fact, is a smidgin less convoluted than many and is kept in sharp focus all the way along: it's 1946, and Kurt Oppen-heimer, Jewish sharpshooting solo anti-Nazi psycho-assassin, is on the loose in Germany. His refugee family in Mexico wants to find Kurt and get him to a psychiatrist--so they hire the underhanded talents of ex-OSS man Minor Jackson and larcenous, lusty Romanian dwarf Nicolae Ploscaru. British lntelligence wants to eliminate Kurt; they're afraid he'll go to Palestine and help the Irgun to shoot up British officialdom there. And the Russians want to recruit Kurt--they'd be happy to see him making a Mideast bloodbath. So agents of these various forces--plus some U.S. Army folk and a few mercenaries (the Russians have sent a load of cash to lure Kurt)--chase each other around the postwar countryside while Kurt, master of disguises, blithely moves down his list of killable Nazis in hiding. Elegantly structured, but hardly believable. As usual, however, the Ross Thomas joys are in the springy comic dialogue, the quirky dramatis personae (the Casanova dwarf is a bit much, though), and the selectively detailed, slightly surreal atmosphere: in Thomas' bombedout Germany, the occupying forces fumble while a well-dressed man surreptitiously kills a duck in the zoo for food. Even with no authentic suspense and no character you'd want for a friend, then, a book of considerable perverse charm.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1979
Publisher: Simon & Schuster