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Tangled African intrigue--drug smuggling, guerrilla warfare, espionage, death-defying treks through the jungle--from veteran Trew (Bannister's Chart, Yashimoto's Last Dive, etc.). Johnnie Johnson--JJ to his friends--owns a flying service and can't stay out of the cockpit himself; he flies into Maputo with two passengers, South Africans Jan Wessels and Pier Pienaar, who have a date with marlin and barracuda, and agrees to give Trudi Braun, stranded by a spat with her boyfriend, a lift back to Johannesburg when he leaves the next day. By nightfall of that day, however, all four of the principals are fighting for their lives after the boat Wessels and Pienaar have hired sinks off the Mozambique coast and JJ's Cessna mysteriously loses power over the interior bush. As the five survivors struggle toward safe villages and (unintentionally and improbably) each other, Trew gradually reveals that they aren't what they seem to be: one of them is a smuggler, another a South African government agent, still another a narcotics officer. Who will survive, who is playing which role, and how is each of them related to their unfriendly rescuer, Commandante Vasco Ferreira, and the bewildered young Mauritius-bound investigator Titus Luena? Trew juggles these questions without much sophistication or depth (""He was such a nice, kind guy. Really nice,"" Trudi says on hearing of JJ's death) but with the sort of complexity provided by constant shifts in point of view. Plodding, sincere, and utterly devoid of suspense or surprise.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's