A memorable report of a monthlong 1992 expedition to Peru, featuring daring, drugs, and despotism. BBC reporter Simpson (Despatches from the Barricades, 1991) loves a good story, and Peru -- source of most of the world's cocaine and home of both the relentless Shining Path guerrilla movement and an army unburdened by procedural niceties -- seemed like a natural place to find one. He planned, with a group of colleagues, to cover the drug problem and the political situation for the BBC and other news organizations. But before describing this trip he whets readers' appetites with engaging preliminary tales of a trip from Brazil to visit forest-dwelling Indians and his subsequent negotiations from London over the logistics of the Peruvian trip. Arrived in Lima, Simpson and his team learn that the Peruvian police have captured Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman. Simpson's interviews show the manhunt leader to be one of the government's few committed democrats, while President Alberto Fujimori, who has suspended the constitution, wriggles out of tough questions. Navigating Peru's coca-growing region, an area off-limits to foreigners, Simpson's team, aided by a brave Peruvian journalist and some rickety forms of transport, has several adventures: They take testimony about army human-rights violations, meet a former official willing to testify about army corruption, and escape some menacing local army potentates, whom they manage to film before fleeing. Amid the tension, there is macabre humor, as when a Peruvian journalist composes for Simpson a fawning letter asking to interview a local drug lord (""Our news...has 99 per cent credibility among the people of Europe""). Simpson leaves Peru after getting the country's vice president, Maximo San Roman, on camera calling Fujimori ""the front man"" for a regime linked with drug traffickers. A good yarn with an appealing protagonist that inspires sadness for the Peruvian people and much distaste for their government.