For what it is, a whiz-bang adventure, The Old Trade is plain perfection with a running undercurrent of experienced emotion. Not drummed up emotion, but a series of felt situations that coalesce... Back in 1942 a lonely, isolated handful of British infantrymen on the Libyan desert discover a lost cave full of artifacts and wall paintings. Or rather, three men do, and report the site to their lieutenant, along with a map of the cave's location. Meanwhile, a British jeep carrying a king's ransom in gold coin to an Arab chieftain is strafed, burned and the money vanishes... Twenty years later one of the men reveals to three buddies from that squadron that a cup he took from the cave has been appraised by the British Museum: it's solid gold from the Mycenaean period. They decide to form their own tiny expedition and liberate some more artifacts, since they still have their maps. But as they go about it, slowly recovering the past and memories of battle, they discover that they are no longer the same men and are no longer knit together by a common danger. Not only that, for half the novel they are beset by bandit Arabs and find themselves back at their old trade as desert rats. Harris handles evocation and mood effortlessly while each twist of melodrama gets its precise human response.