A suave storyteller's new novel has its customary foothold in the rather shifty sphere of present day politics, and it moves both decorously and deviously through a time of national (British) and personal crisis with Melville, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs. Africa of course is the main problem on his agenda and he has, at the time when this book opens, successfully negotiated a new Bill of Rights and enlisted the sympathy of M'lands, leader of one of the new States. An unfortunate quip, however, addressed to a quondam friend, later paraphrased and circulated, leads to violent protest action on the part of the Africans and M'landa's repudiation of the London Agreement. On the home front, Maiville has even more crippling problems--he suspects his wife's infidelity, both now and at an earlier time (with his brother-now dead), and of the ""predominant passions"" (ambition and amorousness) love seems more likely to impair his promising career. The Prime Minister, a dying man but still a masterful manipulator, intervenes, is able to assure Melville's sucession to his post, but it is a joyless triumph....Edelman is always very much at home and assured in this official world which jockeys for power in the House of Commons or on the cricket field, and his book provides an astute entertainment.