Peter Kavanagh is a 19-year-old Cambridge scholar of erotic Latin and Greek verse -- and a virgin, haunted by memories of his widowed mother in bed with a lover. Bemoaning his ignorance, he goes off to Nazi Germany to study under a German professor and falls in love with Ursula, his host's daughter. Ursula has, in fact, been urged by SS Colonel Winterfeld to seduce Peter, marry him, and become a spy for Germany in the inevitable war ahead. But after the seduction, Ursula helps Peter to escape through Switzerland while she remains and marries Winterfeld. And when war does come, Peter takes up military duties in Peshawar near the Khyber Pass and runs a native spy operation there while embarking on a blazing affair with beautiful and married Margaret Crewes. (She falls hard for his Latin verses.) Other passions develop as well -- and then Colonel Winterfeld turns up with his own spy operation; so Peter arranges his assassination while hoping to win back Ursula . . . An unusual, very British mix of vivid adventure and charming amorous dallyings, oddly enhanced by both the India backgrounds and the verses of Virgil and Catullus.