An intriguing mix of high adventure and fantasy marks one of the author's rare departures from her Mrs. Pollifax series (Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle, etc.). American orphan Gen Ferris, 16, raised in Burma by missionary parents, must now, in the wake of her father's suicide, make her way to Rangoon, then to an aunt in America. World War II has ended, but Burma is torn by rebel factions. There's a riverboat to Rangoon (the first since war's end), and Gen sets out to catch it, joined by hunted American spy Nell Hamlin. But the two are separated when Gen is captured and forced to join a small group of prisoners being held for ransom by insurgents. They're from the riverboat, seized while taking a walk as the ship was being dragged off a shoal, and an oddly assorted lot they are, too--imperious Lady Waring; docile Helen Caswell; beautiful Miss Thorwald; good-hearted Terence Baharian; nasty travel-writer Mr. Gunfer; and, most important to Gert, Burmese puppetmaster U Ba Sein. As the days in captivity drag on, facades are dropped and secrets revealed. The threat of execution looms when their captors' demands are resisted by the government, and a tension-racked escape is engineered with help from unexpected sources. The story juggles a sweetly resourceful heroine; a raft of colorful characters, some of them blessedly astringent; more than a touch of the supernatural; heady adventure, and a vividly exotic background. Gilman's skill and imagination make it all work--to the reader's pleasure and satisfaction.