Very, very funny book-length introduction to Alexander's short-story character Police Superintendent Bamsan ""Bosha"" Kiet, his excruciatingly neutral country Luong (where streets named for Marxists and Reaganites abut), its banking system (black marketeering), its climate (too cold in the air-conditioned American Embassy, steamy everywhere else), its ruling class (a billiard-playing 76-year-old Prince), and its military strategists (Ril Thoi, leader of the almost defunct Luong Rouge; Brig. Gen. Chi Vo, who redefines corruption; Col. Marsad ""Mars"" Ref, the consummate conniver). Kiet's case: who killed pilot mercenary Denny McCloud and what was he doing with four Upper Burma pigeon blood rubies in his gastro-intestinal tract? Side-tracking him: Russian Ambassador Kalashnikov, inveterate Peeping Tom; Susan Dempsey-Mohn, full-breasted American researching a thesis on Luong; Pudkin the defector, who makes terrific blinis; Captain Binh, whose love of American crime enforcement gadgetry is stymied by Luong's erratic electricity, mechanically inept personnel and rust. Furthermore, there's a grand bluff at the airport, a little skulduggery at the Bombay Tailor Shop, overdue revenge in the Foh Ten district, Lon Min's murder, and adorable translation discombobulations. Nicely dovetailed: the fun, the facts, the motives, the resolution. A must-read. And can't wait for the next one.