Croft's leisurely approach to storytelling is antithetical to advancing the plot in this spy thriller; by the time anything really starts to happen, many readers will have already lost interest. In 1992, veteran journalist Michael Vaux returns to his native England, hoping to use his generous retirement package to fund the purchase of a house across the street from his childhood home. Unknown to Vaux, he is drawn into a bidding war for the house by British intelligence, which hopes to use his desire for the property to enlist him on a covert assignment. Vaux's value to MI6 stems from his past relationship with Ahmed Kadri, a fellow student at university. Kadri now has a high-level position with the Syrian government, responsible for purchasing weapons. With President Bush's efforts to achieve a comprehensive Middle East peace accord stepping up, the British expect that Vaux's connection with Kadri will enable them to learn the truth about Syria's military intentions. Croft deserves credit for building his story line on an unusual foundation, but his pacing and lackluster beginning are a drawback.