Slow and mellow with a big bang at the end. This illustrates how obsession and believing in one's lies can be a very dangerous to your health. Two men, one a scholar by choice, who is seeking self validation and is riddled with doubts, the other a man with no education but skills, self made, in love with a dream and obsessed with a woman. Both destinies tied together and for both to achieve their dreams both must succeed or die trying. The setting is wonderfully done. Mesopotamia right before WW1, archeological digs, spies uncover as scholars, military men, the end of a great empire. You can feel the sand, the heat. You feel the despair Somerville is experiencing, his nightmare of losing his dream. The sounds of the railroad approaching. It's a slow read, not a thriller, definitely not a spy novel but well worth reading if you like to read about how men behave under duress and how some bend, some crack and some race through it and come out stronger on the other side.