The author of The Journey of the Flame has written another fictionized biography, dealing this time with the rise to power and the eventual disappearance of a Spanish-American bandit. Here's a budding Machiavelli, with a fully developed code of conduct for dictators of his ilk -- a bandit at sixteen, a dictator at twenty. His beliefs and theories of government, religion, art, criminology and the position of women are all set forth. Colorful characters strut across his stage -- The Woman of Atlan, whom Rico feared but obeyed, the Black Ghost, who collected and sold ears, La Gloria, Rico's first mistress, and so on. At the height of his power Rico vanishes and has not been seen since. Written with the same leisurely and yet virile approach that characterized The Journey of the Flame, it somehow lacks the sparkle and punch of that earlier book, and is distinctly less good reading.