A stiffly sprawling romance by the author of the equally wooden Susquehanna (1984), set largely in Peru during the 1970's and dealing with Peruvian politics, the eradication of smallpox, and the ""Jewish Question. ""Dr. Nicole Legende works in the barrios of Lima, despite the fact that her father, Daniel, a Jewish refugee from the Nazis, is the multimillionaire founder of Legende et Cie, a health-products conglomerate. Nicole has lost everyone of importance in her life--her mother, both brothers, her fiancÃ‰--all to noxious disease or dramatic happenstance (such as being cut down in the Six Day War). In each case, Nicole feels personally responsible, so that when she meets Dr. Drew Tower, founder of the International Health Task Force, who feels personal responsibility for his own grieved past, including the hideous cancer death of his young wife, they are a natural pair. The only kicker is that Manuel Caldeiro-Leon, a Harvard-educated Peruvian attorney, is obsessed with Nicole. Is Manuel, whose feelings drive him to near-rape, responsible for Nicole's detention by the lethal Peruvian secret police, following a bloody coup? Will Drew make it back to Peru in time to save her? Will even more awful things happen to even more characters? The answer to all questions is loosely yes, though Manuel turns out better than one would have imagined. Lots of angst, all related in flat, bored prose. The shock appeal of gory and ""tragic"" events is not enough to save this clumsy tome.