Sometime CIA agent Emily Pollifax is back in Ubangiba (Mrs. Pollifax Pursued, 1995, etc.), one of Africa's poorer countries, with her young friend Kadi Hopkirk, whose missionary doctor parents were killed there during a political coup some years before. Now, Kadi's gotten a frantic call from her childhood friend Sammat--23, American-educated, and the last of Ubangiba's royal line--who's been running the country since the latest coup and is soon to be crowned king. Rumors of sorcery and a series of what appear to be lion killings have put Sammat's promising regime at risk, and he wants Kadi's help to uncover the source of his problem. Mrs. Pollifax and Kadi are met at the airport by Sammat, his aide Joseph, and reports of another clawing death. Soon after settling in at the palace, now part hospital, Kadi suffers an arm-gashing knife attack in the palace garden. Later, Mrs. Pollifax explores the local marketplace and buys a gun for Kadi from a huge, surly, but oddly simpatico native called Moses, while a subsequent series of threatening incidents--some testing Mrs. Pollifax's karate skills--is climaxed by Kadi's disappearance. All of our heroine's questions have answers buried in the past, and her eventual discoveries there lead to Kadi's reappearance and the success of her mission. From the start, though, the raison d'etre underlying that mission is unconvincing, and, except for the well-done African ambiance, so are the events that follow. All in all, a dispirited jumble nowhere near this talented writer's better efforts.