For decades the countries of Central America have been plagued by civil war, interregional strife, state-controlled terrorism, and often foreign-inspired revolution. This novel is set in Guatemala, but the events it describes might easily have happened in El Salvador or Honduras.
In 1957, the British archeologist Roger McTavish discovers a group of monuments allegedly erected by Alvaro Manchez, a pre-Discovery legendary Mayan leader and thinker. McTavish translates the inscriptions on the monuments and then disappears-or is "disappeared"-but not before he initiates a lengthy correspondence about his work with a fellow archeologist, Edward Milward. When Milward does of cancer, his papers are inherited by his daughter Linda and her husband, David Anderson, who set out for Guatemala to seek out the monuments and find the translations of the Superman philosophy, which purports to be a powerful synthesis of ideas that explain human existence. Their adventure there constitute the action of the thriller, which also depicts the political situation in 20th -century Guatemala.
As one might expect, given the traditional role of the United States in Central America, the CIA is involved, as are multinationals, mysterious organizations like "The Society", Rain Forest Action, the UN Mission for Human Rights Verification, and other groups. Drugs, terrorism, blackmail, corrupt generals, supine journalists, and the like all figure prominently in a novel that is concerned less with philosophy than with human rights abuses, the oppression of indigenous people, the suppression of knowledge, and the stifling of ideas that might endanger the political status quo. The mythical leaders' philosophy is a mere peg on which to hang this cloak-and-dagger novel's themes of corruption, betrayal, and international intrigue.--John Walker, Canadian Book Review Annual