Familiar action-suspense turmoil--as 1976 chaos on the border between Zambia and Angola involves Cubans, South Africans, mercenaries, the Portuguese Army, and three nationalist groups hinged half on ideology and half on tribalism (the communist MPLA, and the FNLA and UNITA cutting each other's throats). All political direction is bogged down in a shambles, while rumpled, insignificant little Elmer Defkin of the CIA thinks he can shift strategic policy in favor of the West. And in Luanda, Angola, George de Pinho puts some top-secret precious mystery object into a locked, fireproof little black box and gives it to his beautiful but poor mistress Maria Freitas--who flees for her life with the box when de Pinho is captured by Cuban troops. Pursued by Cuban Lieutenant Juan Herraz, Maria leaps into a strange Peugeot driven by Terry Padbury, a British photojournalist heading into the bush. Once inland, they visit Father Manuel dos Santos--who shows them a field full of dead cattle and a downed plane which had been carrying containers loaded with Black Plague bacteria. And it's here that Maria meets Chris Jacobs, a Rhodesian mercenary she detests . . . at first. Attacked by Cuban troops, Terry catches the germ from a shot-up plague container while Maria is captured and interned (she's hidden her black box in a toilet tank) and Chris escapes. Six months later, however, Elmer Defkin manipulates Chris into returning to Angola, rescuing Maria, and getting that mystery box. Chris succeeds, having a brief love affair in the bush with unlucky Maria, and Defkin ""changes the continent"" with the contents of the black box: grid references for a huge pitch-blende-uranium discovery. Swift tale-telling with stereotype characters--serviceable action but again, as in The Hunted (1979), bogged down with solemn patches of murky politics.