In the darkest hour of the American withdrawal from Vietnam, a slow-horse newspaperman fights to rescue the niece whose existence he's just discovered--in this swift-moving tale from Navajo chronicler Hillerman (Sacred Clowns, 1993, etc.). The scene is familiar: the abrupt American departure in April 1975, followed within days by the fall of the Republic of Vietnam, the brutal ethnic cleansing in Cambodia by Poi Pot's Khmer Rouge, and the chaos that turns inoffensive villagers into refugees, fleeing the countryside with the Americans and the ARVN. But the hero swimming against this tide is new to the scene, and so is his author, whose bestselling novels about Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Det. Jim Chee hardly prepare for his most unheroic hero yet: portly, balding Malcolm "Moon" Mathias, whose life as managing editor of a third-rate Colorado daily is suddenly put on hold when his mother collapses en route to Manila and a search through her papers reveals that Moon's kid brother, Ricky, a hotshot civilian flier, left an infant daughter when he and his Vietnamese wife were killed in a helicopter crash. As Moon and the motley companions who cluster around him--Lum Lee, the elderly friend and "business associate" of Ricky's in search of a missing consignment from the helicopter; Osa van Winjgaarden, who's trying to rescue her brother from the martyrdom he's been thirsting for; George Rice, the pilot who didn't fly Ricky's daughter, Lila Vinh, out as planned; and Nguyen Nung, the ARVN deserter with "Kill Cong" tattooed on his chest--descend into the heart of the Mekong darkness, Hillerman exults in the swift geographical trajectory open to him outside the Navaho reservation. At the same time, it's clear why the novel isn't called Finding Lila Vinh: Moon's journey is also very much one into the past, and into the nonentity he's chosen all these years to be. A familiar tale, movingly told by a surprising voice.