Fenwick Travers and the Panama Canal: An Entertainment

Raymond Saunders, Author, Raymond M. Sanders, Author Presidio Press $21.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-89141-481-0
A modern antihero can be venal, sneaky, a coward and a cad--one thinks of George M. Fraser's Flashman--but he must never be dull: our Fenny is very dull. In this tiresome third caper (after Fenwick Travers and the Forbidden Kingdom), the U.S. Army Captain is posted to Panama in 1903, charged with the task of goading some rich Panamanians to revolt against Colombia in order to get Teddy Roosevelt his canal. Saunders strives for the picaresque, creating a world of mutton chop-whiskered men in uniforms gratifying their basest urges (womanizing and gambling) as they nonchalantly decide the fate of nations. Needing to escape some gambling and criminal ventures gone awry, the libertine Fenwick is happy to head south for his assignment--until he crosses the locals, generally gets in over his head and is abducted by Indians. His ongoing attempt to wed the beautiful and rich Alice Brenoble continues, although a reader can't help thinking that she must be very rich and beautiful indeed to make up for her utter lack of intelligence. Personages like Teddy Roosevelt and Diamond Jim Brady strut the stage in a fairly predictable story, as Saunders reaches for new variations on his old running gag: how the craven Fenwick manages, despite himself, to get the job done. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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