A routine assignment to trace the path of some illicit Angolan diamonds leads a freelance adventurer to the obligatory fate-of-nations scenario. The De Beers cartel, to its own mind, doesn't have enough diamonds. Ever since the Angolan government made it legal for the natives to sell the stones they've been hoarding, they haven't made their way into the De Beers's clutches, but are being traded to somebody else--a sinister new player, as diamond digger Ross Janson tells troubleshooter Mark Rayner, who's buying up the stones to trade for illegal ivory. The player is Maximilian Kabinda, of Kinshasa Copper; and if Rayner needs any proof of how dangerous he is, he gets it when, minutes after his talk with Janson, he watches from a distant ditch as Kabinda's men execute the Angolan officers who've come to arrest them for ivory trafficking--and then, for good measure, sees Kabinda shoot Janson and an animal-rights activist who's on the scene. Shocked and harrowed by the memory of the carnage he's witnessed, Rayner retreats to a sisterly sweetheart on Cape Cod, but Kabinda's arm is longer than expected. Two contract thugs come looking for the photos Rayner snapped from his ditch, and in order to protect his long-range health, the hunted man takes cover under the umbrella of WOPES, the World Organisation for the Protection of Endangered Species. It's a decision that'll lead him to a mind-bogglingly complex smuggling plot, a British intelligence officer's scheme to give the UK an edge in the negotiations over the transfer of Hong Kong to China, and some magical nights with a woman whose image has troubled his dreams ever since that horrifying day in Angola. Middling actioner with pro forma betrayals. Rayner takes the whole thing personally, but nobody familiar with Peel's long record (Dark Armada, 1995, etc.) should make the same mistake.