Cover image for The devil's oasis
The devil's oasis
Bull, Bartle.
Personal Author:
First Carroll and Graf edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2001.
Physical Description:
336 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



All the treacherous intrigue of cosmopolitan Cairo and fiery drama of Rommel's desert war in Africa continue the stirring historical adventure of the masterly Bartle Bull's two previous novels, The White Rhino Hotel and A Cafe on the Nile. It is now 1942, and Nazi Germany stands at the height of its power. In North Africa the brilliant general Rommel's panzers threaten the Suez Canal, the Middle East's oil fields, and the trade route to Asia, but to win Egypt Rommel must first take the portof Tobruk and destroy the British fortress of Bir Hakeim. There, against the massive force of Rommel's Afrika Korps, a young English hussar named Wellington Rider fights beside the French Foreign Legion. Wellington's father, the professional hunter Anton Rider, is now operating as a desert commando and is engaged in the obliteration of Nazi air bases and petrol dumps. Not only has Anton's old friend Ernst von Decken, a German soldier of fortune, meanwhile become the enemy, but also Anton's estranged wife has entered into an affair with a Frenchman who supports Rommel's campaign. Alliances shift, loyalties deceive, espionage thrives, and peril lies as much in the dark corners of Cairo as it does in the desert night. "...after three volumes of nonstop action, eroticism and intrigue, we still care about what happens to ... Mr. Bull's extravagant cast."--Richard Bernstein, New York Times "A World War II page-turner that's part Masterpiece Theatre, part Raiders of the Lost Ark, part Casablanca."--Washington Post

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Bull revisits Cairo and the unconventional Cataract Cafein this stunning sequel to A Cafeon the Nile (1998). Most of the cosmopolitan cast of drifters returns in this tautly woven adventure set in 1942. As General Rommel and his Afrika Korps are poised to invade Tobruk as part of their ongoing quest to capture the Egypt, old loyalties are tested, strained, and shattered in this essentially international community. While Anton Rider, a former big-game hunter, heads a British commando unit, his old friend Ernst von Decken has aligned himself with his native Germany, much to the dismay of his American-born wife. Equally troubling is the fact that Anton's ex-wife is engaged in an affair with a French-born Nazi sympathizer, despite her own son being a member of the British Hussars. Meanwhile, Ohvio Alavedo, the mysterious proprietor of the Cataract Cafe, continues to provide a gathering place for the beleaguered denizens of Cairo. Bull is a master storyteller, interweaving authentically detailed military history with a continually evolving human drama. --Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

HThe dashing series that began with The White Rhino Hotel and continued with A Caf on the Nile is moving its larger-than-life cast of exiles in 20th-century North Africa further ahead in time with each book. Still at the center of this latest installment is the exotic Goan dwarf Olivio Alavedo, with his circle of English friends, his beautiful children and his long-nurtured dreams of vengeance on those who have slighted him. The dashing Anton Rider is, as always, on the outs with his lovely and plucky wife, Gwenn, last seen nursing tribesmen mown down by Mussolini's troops in Eritrea. Now it's 1939, and war is about to engulf Cairo and the whole of North Africa, pitting Rider's old buddy, the brutally macho Ernst von Decken, against those accursed Englanders. Gwenn and Anton's eldest son, Wellington, insists on joining the army; what else can a chap do? Once again Gwenn has chosen the wrong lover, a terminally corrupt French fence-sitter, but all that is soon swept aside as the magnetic General Rommel and his Afrika Korps roar in to seize the Suez Canal. Yes, there's a role for wily old desert hand Anton, too, in harassing the German supply lines. It's an all-out, gung-ho war adventure, with much of the period glamour of The English Patient, but not a spot of psychological subtlety. The battle scenes are grimly garish, the plentiful suffering is endured in appropriate stiff-upper-lip silence. Exotic adventure fiction doesn't come much better and there's obviously a fourth chapter waiting in the wings. (Apr.) Forecast: A 30,000-copy first printing and a $30,000 ad/promo budget attest to the publisher's well-warranted faith in this series. Strong word of mouth from those who have enjoyed previous installments, plus some admiring reviews, should bring in new devotees of black-and-white wartime derring-do. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

All the colorful characters from Bull's A Caf on the Nile are back in his latest saga of war and intrigue in the cafs and nightclubs of Cairo and the harsh surrounding desert. There's Olivio Alavedo, worldly dwarf owner of the Cataract Caf; old Africa hands Anton Rider and Ernst von Decken and their respective wives; surgeon Gwen Rider, glamorous American heiress Harriet von Decken, and their children; dashing soldier Wellington Rider; and exotically beautiful Saffron Alavedo. As General Rommel and his Afrika corps push their way across the Sahara, the ever-present danger and intrigue heightens in Cairo, pitting former friends against one another and forcing them to make difficult choices. Occasionally, the rapid shifting among the interwoven stories breaks the reader's emotional connection with the characters, but the brilliantly rendered description of a desert war among colonial powers more than makes up for for this shortcoming. Highly recommended. Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.