An oilman on the skids pulls himself together to fly to the Indian Ocean to see whether a plane full of his old colleagues fell from the sky or was pushed. Collee is the author of the medical thrillers A Paper Mask and Kingsley's Touch. Spence, a boozy, brokenhearted Canadian with either no first name or no last, attends the funeral of a dozen fellow oil-workers whose charter flight from Madagascar crashed seconds after takeoff. At the funeral, Spence spies the faithless wife whose betrayal sent him into an alcoholic tailspin and the crippling, near-fatal accident that ended his own career. He also sees his newly widowed friend Cora, who begs him to find out whether there's any basis to the rumor that the flight on which her husband died was sabotaged. Spence combines the unpaid detective work with a contract to tidy up the African drilling site. But he lands in the middle of political upheaval: Madagascar's honest but luckless government is about to fall, a victim of its own unfulfilled hopes for the discovery of oil that would rebuild the impoverished country. Wanting to take power is a charismatic, Sorbonne-educated onetime radical. At the drilling site, Spence checks into a hotel run by the ravishing Mme. Perpetuda Peyrame, who is, oddly enough, another Sorbonne graduate. Before he can pack up the rig for sale to the government, Spence gets his hands on the last records of the drilling team and finds--what's this?--there really was oil after all. Lots and lots of it. Did Norco, the firm that paid for the drilling, know about this? If they did, why did they close the site? And why didn't they tell anyone about the fabulous discovery? Sophisticated thriller that hops back and forth from the untouristed tropics to the steppes of Alberta to great effect.