Australia's Detective Inspector Scobie Malone (The High Commissioner, Helga's Web, Ransom) returns after a 15-year absence--in a sturdy tale, more melodrama than mystery, involving slimy politicians, an lmelda Marcos-like femme fatale, and an elusive terrorist, sniper in the Day of the Jackal tradition. Pres. Timori of Palucca, deposed in a military coup, has fled--with a mega-fortune, wife Delvina (a former showgirl), and several aides--to safety in Sydney. But famed Argentinian guerrilla Miguel Seville has been hired (by persons unknown) to assassinate Timori: a first attempt leaves two innocent bystanders dead. So stolid super, cop Malone starts tracking the ruthless lilt-man, who hooks up with Aborigine extremists and at one point takes Malone himself for a hostage-ride. And meanwhile the reader gets regular glimpses of the nasty machinations among the power, brokers--as Madame Delvina manipulates two ex-lovers: the Aussie P.M. (a shallow ex-TV star) and rich conservative Russell Hickbed (heavily invested in Palucca). The identity of Seville's employer, revealed on the night of Australia's Bicentennial Ball, comes as no surprise. The final manhunt, with Seville cornered in the Bush, is equally predictable. But old-pro Cleary mixes the familiar elements--including Malone's warm, plucky family--with crisp, steady authority.