S.R. Van Iterson's fourth novel once again makes powerful use of an exotic Colombian setting, this time the bustling, smuggler-ridden port of Buenaventura and the steaming jungle that harbors fugitives and plotters. Young Robert is gradually enmeshed with a band of weapons smugglers, first when he stumbles on evidence of their operation during his exploration of Manuel el Bobo's rundown plantation and later when he overhears whispered conversations in Ling Pa's grocery, and he is soon lured into the jungle itself where only the help of another exile, Ordulio who's wanted for murder back home, enables him to survive. The richly populated subplots and atmospheric, intense prose that made, say, Village of Outcasts so compelling are less evident here, though a character like the family cook Emperatriz still has a commanding presence that belies her minor role. On the level of pure detection this is certainly remarkable for the ingenuity of the smugglers' operation and the suspense of Roberto's escape from the jungle. But even when pursuing villains as earthy as Manuel el Bobo, Van Iterson manages to intimate an evil more menacing and significant.