British diplomacy in Africa during the blood-birth of Kajanda, a former British protectorate now ruled by an Idi Amin-styled military dictator. The plot is layered like a napoleon, crisp with shocks. Bill Rutherford has built himself a freight plane down in Kajanda and uses it to ferry goods to England. After the coup led by General Naji Gawaka, Rutherford is unwillingly dragged into helping members of the overthrown government escape, and he's also sucked into helping the British High Commissioner's Personal Assistant (beautiful Virginia Lacey) run an underground railroad. Both are whipped about by some truly gruesome events. At last he finds himself hired as personal pilot to the new dictator, a madman who has his appealing side. And presiding over the tale is High Commissioner Hugh Fortescue, a longtime civil servant who retains extraordinary idealism and sagacity (he is the ""Excellency""). Beaty's veteran touch divides the bright melodrama from the commonplace--restrained, realistic, and bloody, making good use of the secret of quickening suspense: reader identification with as many characters as possible.