Suspense first novel set in the Himalayas, by a member of the Economic Section of the American Embassy in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. David Trowbridge, a biologist, wants to develop a national park and wildlife refuge in mountainous Lhakrinor, a region of Nepal. Poor Nepal, however, lies between India and China, both of which have designs on her and thus complicate Trowbridge's plan. First he must explore Lhakrinor to discover just what kind of wildlife still exists there, since the tribes have been denuding the mountains of trees and thus of grass and fodder for their dwindling herds. We follow him through his difficulties with authorities, porters, and monsoons as he treks toward Lhakrinor, a truly remote (fictional) place. One of his porters turns out to be a former goddess, Nima, who has fled her abusive husband in Katmandu, and a cleanhanded but sexy romance grows between Trowbridge and Nima. Also close to him is Norbu, an all-knowing, all-purpose Sherpa, who is himself in flight from a vow to kill the Lhakrinor official who caused the murder of his father. The novel skirts its melodramatic underpinning and focuses on Trowbridge and Nima's tracking various snow leopards and wild herds of mountain bharal, a kind of heavily furred goat or blue sheep that can climb sheer faces to escape leopards. The novel's power lies both in its fauna and in the brilliant wisdom of Norbu and the many tribesmen and lamas the team meets. The suspense element of an Indian colonel who pretends to be a pilgrim while mounting a Tibetan attack on the Red Chinese--an attack that must certainly fail but nonetheless will provoke hostilities between China and India--weaves neatly through the story without weakening its higher environmental philosophical aims. Impacted into the Himalayas, you track the pug marks and dung of great cats while the wind thrills up your back.