Chloe Fowler expects to be accompanying her surgeon husband to last-days-of-the-Shah Iran for a few weeks of visiting-expert residency when, in the London airport, Jeffrey the husband hears news that his partner has been badly hurt in an accident and that he must return to San Francisco. Chloe is urged to go on ahead and wait--and she does. Occasionally unfaithful, with art-historical research of her own to do, she's a little frightened but more intrigued to see how she'll do alone for the moment. Not hurting is the fact that another doctor, Hugh Monroe, will be there at the hospital compound at the same time, and she and Hugh have been mixing a cocktail of dalliance for the last few years when they've run into each other at conventions and the like. The tones used by Chloe and Hugh and the other Americans and the Iranian doctors--against the backdrop of a crumbling political situation--is Johnson's main palette. No one trusts anyone else, suspicion is rampant; Western and Eastern unhappiness seem not that far apart; and when real trouble does finally descend, individual character outs or doesn't. Johnson is intelligent and level on all this, and Chloe is attractively neither angel nor devil--but you have the sense of a story pushed on for no great compelling reason, comfortably smart but without the special tang for intermixed differences of personality that other Johnson novels (The Shadow Knows, Lying Low) have produced.