The publisher may call them mysteries, but what John R. L. Anderson continues to produce are durable alloys fused out of scenic suspense, outdoors adventure, and a dollop of detection. There's sand this time instead of the usual Anderson eddies and breakers--the desert sand in fictional Carminia (just south of Libya) where Cambridge undergraduate Mike Rawlinson almost died of thirst and exposure; Carminian Consolidated, the mining company that gave him a summer job, sent him out in a Land Rover with a faulty compass and kerosene in the water jugs. Now Consolidated's stocks are booming: Mike's back in school, and someone puts a near-fatal dose of arsenic in his lime juice. Having recovered from his Death in the North Sea injuries, Col. Peter Blair investigates, moving from England to Africa, where Mike and linguist Septimus Viborg join him on camelback. Aided by Tjilas tribesmen (traders in aphrodisiacs), they track down the mining company's secrets and help to defend Carminia's supreme Walli from an outside-agitator-inspired uprising. The action is quietly convincing, with a steady pace and good-hearted people--and, as narrator Blair says of Mike's decency, ""These virtues may be old fashioned, but they remain useful to have around.