Books: Death in San Fernando

COMPANIONS OF THE LEFT HAND (338 pp.)—George Tabori—Houghton Mifflin ($2.75).

Hungarian-born George Tabori, 32, is almost unknown as a novelist. Educated in Germany, trained as a journalist in the Balkans and the Middle East, he now lives in England, has worked for the BBC since 1943. Companions of the Left Hand,* his second novel (the first: Beneath the Stone, 1945), is a sardonic political parable, overwritten in spots, preachy in others, but crafty, speculative and Koestler-like in its ambiguities and undertones.

In outline, the story resembles Thomas Mann's Death in Venice: an aging writer goes down to the Italian seaside to rest in...