Books: Out of the Old Pirogue

THE CONDOR PASSES by Shirley Ann Grau. 421 pages. Knopf. $7.95.

Novels resembling The Godfather are to be expected these days, but it is certainly a surprise to see one from Shirley Ann Grau.

This one starts out by recounting the rapacious career of one Thomas Oliver, who was born in an Ohio River town in 1870. At 13 he left home, and by 17 he was prospering as a pickpocket, pimp and smuggler. After another ten years of wandering, he winds up down the river in New Orleans. His first big money comes from...

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