In Australia, a setting far from the author's last outing (Death of a Madonna), plant scientist Dr. Jack Duquesne has worked for years on a tough new strain of wheat he accidentally discovered in the uranium fields of the country's harsh tropical reaches--and now he wants the world to know about this important resource against starvation. Instead, he finds himself in the middle of conflicting, cynical national and global politics. Two CIA men have been killed while trying to get a closer look at the experimental crop; a third has almost killed Duquesne; and suave Prime Minister James Blantyre seems to be working a deal with the US to hold back the discovery--a threat to that nation's wheat growers--in exchange for a uranium contract. The Aborigines have an interest in that deal, too. Then there are the Russians, in the person of Duquesne's girlfriend Irina, with more to come. Frustrated and angry, threatened on all sides, Duquesne manages to get to an international scientific conference in Rome, where he escapes death a second time and is rewarded, in a nice melodramatic flourish, for his stubborness and dedication. The overpopulated plot, full of sometimes hackneyed twists and turns, is unconvincing, but a likable, unheroic Duquesne, the clearly written scientific lore, and a colorful Australian scene make this a worthwhile diversion.