Books: End of the Chase

When a skinny, secretive old man who called himself "Hal Groves" died in Mexico eight years ago, one' of literature's strangest paper chases came to an end. Services were held not for Groves but for "Traven Torsvan," a naturalized Mexican citizen. The dead man's widow acknowledged what had been widely suspected: that Torsvan, who had hidden his identity for 45 years, was indeed the reclusive novelist B. Traven. The author's broody, metallic style echoes that of Stephen Crane and Joseph Conrad. His once acclaimed books and short-story collections (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Death Ship, The Rebellion of the...

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