A first novel and English import by a writer who's worked as a radio and TV producer. With it, Dunant scores big, for few debut thrillers are quite so polished, intelligent, and inventive. The tale concerns a smoothly handsome cocaine smuggler and the young Englishwoman, Elly Cameron, who chooses to share his dangerous life. He introduces her to ""the thoroughbred of narcotics"" and to the dangerous thrills that come from carrying it over international borders. Nearly destroyed by her addiction to both the drug and her cold, deceitful boyfriend, Elly contacts her old childhood friend, Marla Masterson, a quiet, Anglo-Saxon historian whose extraordinary powers of observation, cool head, and sharp tongue make her a suitable, if unusual, inheritor of the Sam Spade mantle. (Of the New York watering hole where she meets the drug don, Lenny, Marla says, ""It was the kind of cocktail bar that could have doubled for an album cover."") It's up to Marla to support Elly in her decision to leave Lenny, to carry a load of white gold through customs for her, to fathom Lenny's dark motives, and finally to take her revenge--a dish the author serves up stone cold, and delicious. As thrillers go, this is high-grade stuff, laced only with wit, a touch of feminism, and myriad, entertaining ambiguities.