It's back to homicide-cop Stuart Haydon for Lindsey, who, last time out, dropped his usual Houston-based hero (In the Lake of the Moon, 1988, etc.) for a policewoman on a spellbinding serial-killer case (Mercy, 1990). And a welcome return it is, with Haydon flying to Guatemala on a missing-person quest that evolves into a strong, suspenseful meditation on the elusive nature of truth. The opening scene sets the theme, with Haydon trying to elicit a statement from a woman caught in ``a closely held sorrow, a concealed anguish.'' She's the mother of a missing young woman, Lena Muller, presumed dead; but now, she finally tells Haydon, a p.i. has called from Guatemala to say that Lena is alive--but in trouble. How much trouble, Haydon learns when he flies to that frightful land, powerfully depicted here as a realm of pestilence and poverty, ruled by fear--of the government's torture chambers, of death squads: Upon his arrival, the only sign Haydon finds of the p.i. is a room splashed with blood. And as he searches for Lena--who becomes his grail, his ``body of truth''--Haydon realizes that Guatemala is also a realm of feints and shadows, where everyone lies: the CIA chief whose parallel hunt for Lena masks cynical political motives; the ex-spy whose love for Lena is tainted by greed; the guerrilla leader whose populism conceals a brutal ruthlessness. As Haydon digs further and uncovers a baby- selling ring masterminded by the nation's president--a secret that has pushed Lena into guerrilla hands and made her a death-squad target--he becomes a government target himself, first via a botched car-bombing and then by way of an old ally who, terrifyingly, lures him into a cemetery to execute him...but the cop survives to find Lena at last--and a truth harsher than he imagined. A tad slow in patches, but beautifully written and echoing with deep moral resonance: Graham Greene would be proud.