Cave Dwellers

Written by Richard Grant
Review by Elisabeth Lenckos

What if the military opposition to Hitler’s regime had organized early enough to prevent the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the world war that ensued? Cave Dwellers tells the story of Army Lieutenant Oscar Langweil who in 1937 is sent to Washington in order to appeal to a powerful American senator to lend his support to the gathering German resistance, but his mission fails. Oskar is betrayed and forced into hiding; eager to return to Germany, he enlists the help of German expatriates, who smuggle him, along with his pretend wife, aboard a ship bound for Bremerhaven. As it happens, the liner also carries the senator he had attempted to contact in the U.S.—as well as the senator’s son, and an SS officer.

Back inside the Third Reich, the boy is abducted, while Oscar and his group are framed for the crime and man-hunted; the novel turns from a spy into an action thriller as they flee through rivers and forests, eventually coming face to face with their enemies in an Alpine mountain lodge. Is it a coincidence that Lieutenant Langweil shares his first name with the famous protagonist of Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum or that his last name denotes, among other things, slowness and the passage of time? While Oskar and his friends run from the SS and fight for their survival, the disaster of 1939 edges ever closer. Lovers of World War II-inspired action books will enjoy this work.