The Davidian ReportBy: Hughes, Dorothy B. (female)
Publisher: Pyramid Publications, Inc. (R-1099)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 275: PS3515 .U268 D38 1964
Contributor: J. Vourgourakis
GeneralEra: 1950s Author as on Cover: Dorothy B. Hughes Geographic Locale: Los Angeles, California Date of Publication: 1964 | Original Date: 1952 Setting: urban; post World War II Los Angeles Motives: the story begins with a murder.
Steve Wintress, a.k.a. Stefan Winterich, is on a mission for the Communist Party. He must locate the Davidian Report, which details the War and plans for Soviet expansion throughout Western Europe. The elusive Davidian escaped from Berlin after the War with all the intelligence necessary to compile the report, and is now in Los Angeles. He has agreed to sell the report to the Communist Party. In L.A., Winters is hounded by the local Communist Party whose members don't trust him, and the FBI who are just a few steps behind him on the trail of Davidian. Winters meets up with his old flame from Berlin, Janni, who now works at a movie theater in skid row. In a tale of spy vs. counter-spy, Wintress has to lie his way to safety, even when that means lying to the only woman he has ever loved. But in the end it is revealed that it is all done in the name of freedom when the reader discovers that Steve has been working for the Americans all along.
Steve Wintress a.k.a. Stefan Winterich, adult male, served in Germany during WW II but deserted the Army after "beating up a snivel-nosed officer who accused him of operating on the black market." Sold himself as a spy to the Communist Party, but it seems he may have been working for the American Counter Intelligence Corps all along.
Janni Zerbec adult female, movie box office ticket seller; grew up in Berlin and survived WW II by dancing in the streets and taking soldiers home; escaped to Los Angeles after the war to pursue her dreams of freedom.
Davidian adult male, ex-spy on the run, takes any job he can get to survive, including dishwasher and organ player. Formerly a spy in Berlin, but now on the run from both the Communist Party and the FBI. Fled from Berlin with all of the intelligence to compile the Davidian report with the intention of selling it to the highest bidder.
Haig Armour adult male, lawyer, former FBI agent
Feather Talle adult female, dancer and niece of Eldon Moritz
Eldon Moritz adult male, big Hollywood producer, Communist Party member
Rueben St. Clair adult male, PFC on leave from the Army
Oriole adult male, Communist Party stationmaster
Schmidt adult male, local party boss
Level of Violence
minimal; Steve Winters slaps Feather Talle when he realizes that she is working for the Communist Party.
Janni is described as a very sexually alluring woman who can lure and trap men or wrap them around her finger. Steve used to be her lover in Berlin and is still in love with her. They kiss and embrace in a car toward the end of the novel. All of the sexual relationships are strictly heterosexual.
the female characters are contrasted in terms of their beauty and their political sympathies. Janni is a beautiful, good-hearted woman who protects Davidian from Steve and the Communist Party until she and Steve re-kindle their love, and she tells Steve how he can contact Davidian. She grew up poor and abused under the Communists, but moved to America because she believes in freedom. Feather Talle is described as homely and stupid. We later learn that she is working for the Communist Party. The men are treated in similar fashion; Steve and Haig Armour are the good-looking guys who fight on the side of freedom, while the bad guys are the fat, weasely, ugly Communists.
anti-Semitism -- it seems to be implied that the character of Eldon Moritz is Jewish (based on his name and the fact that he is a Hollywood movie producer). He is described as the "money bags" of the local Communist Party, and is therefore a "bad guy" in the novel. Although many of the characters lived in Germany during and after WW II, no mention is made of the Holocaust.
most characters drink socially. Davidian is described as a bit of a drunk.
Haig Armour from the FBI represents the law. He is smart and good-natured. Steve, whom the reader sympathizes with throughout the novel, is not a Communist spy after all, but a counter-spy working for the Counter Intelligence Corps.
interesting portrayal of Cold War politics. Though Steve is shown to be working on the side of freedom and democracy in the end, he is also quite sympathetic to Communist ideals. Social inequities are foregrounded throughout the novel, especially in the contrast between Janni, who is dirt-poor, and Feather Talle, who lives in the luxurious mansion of her producer-uncle Moritz. Ultimately, the wealth of Talle and Moritz are tied to the corrupt Communist Party, while Janni struggles in poverty for the ideals of freedom and the American Dream.
California - Los Angeles/ International Intrigue/ Communism
this book is highly suspenseful, with Steve always one step ahead of his pursuers and one step away from murder. The sexual tension between Steve and Janni heightens the suspense.