The Movimiento de Accion Marxista (MAMista) is a revolutionary organization endeavoring to bring the “joys” of Marxism to the imaginary country of Spanish Guiana. Needless to say, the aristocratic government of President Admiral Benz is inclined to oppose MAMista insofar as their triumph means poverty and exile for the aristocracy. The U.S. government supports the Benz regime but is uneasy about that support inasmuch as the chief source of income for the government is the production and export of cocaine.

A fortuitous development affords a solution to this dilemma, with domestic political benefits in the bargain. A Texas oil company discovers what promises to be a major production field in Guiana, the development of which will sharply reduce American dependence on Middle Eastern suppliers. In turn, substantial oil profits will enable the Benz regime to dispense with cocaine exports as a source of revenue, while exploitation of the field will add to the profits of several industries in a state vital to the president’s reelection.

Once again Len Deighton succeeds in presenting the human element behind the convoluted geostrategic schemes which are often the vital ingredients of international relations. Few are as capable as Deighton in delineating the inevitable conflict between the morality of those who toil in the vineyards and the amorality of their masters. Deighton is a master storyteller, and readers will be delighted to discover he is no longer attempting to emulate John le Carre.