Macau, the Portuguese colony-city 45 miles east of Hong Kong, is the primary setting for this colorful, corny, rather slow-moving adventure--with a pokey, 300-page buildup to a hectic nautical-chase sequence. Gorgeous, US-educated Crystal Lily has returned to Macau to take over her late father's crime syndicate, which specializes in overseas smuggling to Hong Kong (gold, heroin). But one of Crystal's top Syndicate lieutenants, Thomas Wu, is obviously planning a coup against her. And he'll succeed, with help from the Triad syndicate of Hong Kong. . . unless Crystal can appease the Triad bv paying off a huge debt to them: two tons of gold bullion, which must somehow be smuggled to Hong Kong! So Crystal turns for help to her childhood idol, the ""Snake Boat Man,"" a.k.a. Nicholai the Russian--a legendary Syndicate smuggler, now living in H.K. retirement. He's reluctant at first, of course. Soon, however, Nicholai is rounding up the usual motley/terrific crew for the mission--including a black Vietnam vet and Crystal's Irish ex-lover. Meanwhile, too, Crystal forms an alliance with a shaky H.K. taipan, who'll help to protect the gold-shipment from the British authorities. But the bad guys are equally busy: Nicholai's old nemesis, nasty Supt. Malloy, is out to get him, with Mata Hari-ish help from seductive Mae Ling, a Maoist refugee; Thomas Wu and his henchmen make a few assassination attempts on Crystal. And finally, as NicholaS and Crystal Lily find love, the daring mission gets underway--complete with decoy-ship, souped-up engines, gunplay, police launches, minesweepers. . .and a trick escape in the James-Bond/special-effect mode. Carney, author of the similarly routine Under a Raging Sky (1981), has no original notions here. The characters are cut-outs; the dialogue ranges from stilted and stiff to B-movie Fu Manchu (""you beautiful lying bitch,"" etc.). But, filled out with some solid Macau/H.K. backgrounds (including an intriguing refugee-camp digression), this is serviceable action-adventure--at least when things start perking in the last 100 pages.