A condensed (and slightly flattened), almost telegraphic first novel about the return visit of Paul, a South African doctor now in exile for having treated a black rebel kaffir on the run. Fictional accoutrements of dying father, ""colored"" ex-lover, jailed or persecuted old friends and loyal wife and innocent children aside, Gordon's muted tale of personal conflicts under political repression is a prolonged meditation on the duty of citizens in a police state, as well as an indictment of apartheid. She contrasts the prejudice and meanness of vision of the Afrikaaners' Calvinist Boer tradition to the open spaces and dry sunshine of the highveld -- all the ""more evil,"" &dares the doctor, ""for being so beautiful."" Paul faces the ultimate ethical test when he is asked to become dangerously involved again as a courier to London with a pathetic note of protest -- but involved he is, since that's what conscience is all about. Gordon's restraint and tense spareness only underline the suppressed power of her theme of white man's infamy, white man's guilt.