Power, corruption, and big-picture seams in near-future Australia on the verge of independence. Hall, Australian author of the whimsical 1982 Just Relations, the ambitious but flawed 1987 Captivity Captive, and several volumes of verse, here takes a slide with this larger-than-life tale about power-drunk operators and political flim-flam. A referendum vote in Hall's 1992 Australia spells independence for the one-time Commonwealth nation, and on the surface of things, optimism for new beginnings abounds. But darker motives lurk behind the scenes: with independence coming up, and old British interests about to be turned out, a new money group--American--prepares for a feeding. Assisted by Luigi Squarcia--""Did he stop short of evil? It was the vigor in his blood, evil""--the conspirators mount a campaign to seize control of Australia through behind-the-scenes rigging of public opinion. And dancing to pulled strings is one Bernard Buchanan, the campaign's ideal front-man--no political affiliation, no religion, capable of taking orders. It's only a matter of time and money before the independence campaign carries the election, Australia is sold down the tubes to American interests, and Bernard Buchanan loses what's left of his soul. Along the way, Hall evinces some of the style and wit that characterized Just Relations, and his ear for dialect is impeccable, but the unchecked digressions and clumsy conspiracy theory plot ultimately force this one off the rails.