Twenty years ago, Ray Campbell, now a cautious risk-management adviser was a well-intentioned aid worker dedicated to improving conditions in a newly independent African state of Lubanda. When a friend from his time in Africa is found murdered in a New York alley, Ray is forced to reconsider his year of living dangerously. Signs suggest that this most recent tragedy is rooted in the far distant one of Martine Aubert, the only woman Ray ever truly loved. Martine is a white native Lubandan farmer whose dream for her homeland starkly conflicted with those charged with its so-called development. But Ray's failure to Martine's commitment to her country had placed a noose around her neck, tightened by a circle of vicious men, cruel taunts, and whistling machetes.