March 01, 1982 12:00 PM

by A.E. Hotchner

An American art historian is living at the Hotel Ritz in Paris when the Germans occupy the country in 1940. He meets Hermann Göring in the elevator and becomes involved in the Nazi’s obsession with acquiring masterpieces. The French underground also recruits the hero, and the book becomes one of those breathlessly paced wartime adventures. The Germans make the most satisfactory villains, and Göring, a pampered fat man who wears masses of jewelry and pops morphine pills as he did in real life, is especially frightening. Hotchner, the author of nonfiction best-sellers about Ernest Hemingway, Doris Day and Sophia Loren, includes other real people as characters. Coco Chanel is a friend of the hero’s, and among other names dropped are Charles Lindbergh, Hemingway and Man Ray. The ending, in which the hero is saved by a boy who survived the 1937 Guernica bombing, is melodramatic, but the yarn is as easy to read as it will be to sit through the inevitable movie version. (Putnam, $13.95)

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