Fidel Castro's fatal heart attack in a meeting modifies the agenda for everybody. The coauthors are the nation's Second Lady and the Vice-President's sister-in-law. When a lifetime of leadership and big cigars takes its toll on El Jefe, cutting him off forever in the middle of an endlessly interesting Marxist monologue, his loyal staff clamp down on the news, sealing off the presidential palace until they can settle the little matter of succession. But Maria, the palace parlormaid, a loyal member of La Causa, the opposition underground, spirits the news out with the garbage, and wheels start to turn in Washington, Moscow, and Hong Kong. Hong Kong? Where else would oil-rich Persians plot Islamic world domination? The power struggle in Havana is brutish but short, settling creepy Cesar Valles into the presidential chair with the secret backing of the resident Russians. The struggle in Washington, however, has just begun. Right-minded Senator Bob Grant (R-[Surprise!] Georgia), who has ties to La Causa, fights the wimpy Democratic President, the irresponsible local newspaper, the cuckolded gasbag senator from Iowa, and a villainous Soviet mole in the Senate foreign-policy machinery to keep the country from embracing Cuba's treacherous new leaders. Fidel's funeral is the site of the showdown. One can only hope that the Washington insights here are badly mistaken. Everyone talks in the strangest way. (""But, Cesar, I'm, well...I'm shocked. Castro seemed indestructible. His impact on Cuba--nay, on the entire world--can't be denied."") The geopolitically thrilling plot, however, is an acceptable first effort.