This was a fun book. Not fantastic, but fun. The time is toward the beginning of WWII, before the U.S. became involved, but Germany had already begun marching through Europe. The place for this book seems to be Ecuador. Winslow Greene is a very nerdy geologist who works for a gold-mining company. They are extracting ore from a vein up in the Andes. Greene has to go down to the coast for some reason. He is to meet the new stenographer, Henrietta Simmons, and get her sent upriver to the mining site. She is totally unprepared for the rough life she will be living, so he helps her get a new outfit and orients her slightly into the ways of her new position. He also finds himself falling for her, and she him.
Then, he is accosted by a police officer who has been watching two locals, Herr Gruber and Senior Martinez. He thinks they might be wanting to organize a heist of the next gold shipment down from the mine. It seems there is a German raider ship out at sea that has run out of oil. The only way to refuel the ship is to buy oil with "real" money, i.e. not Deutch Marks.
So, we have half romance in foreign climes and half spy mystery. Greene is so nerdy that he's what my old pastor would have called "socially retarded". At least that's what he called me back in the day when I was a young man and awkward around people, especially distaff types of people. Which all means the romantic bits are a bit strained. But overall, it's a fun read.
What I re-learned from reading this book was that Marquand wrote a number of basically forgettable, but highly readable books, e.g. this book and the Mr. Moto series, and at least one piece of prize-worthy literature that was not readable, The Late George Appley. Obviously the fault is mine: in addition to being a social retard, I'm obviously not competent to enjoy good literature, only good reading. Or something like that.