I picked this up for its setting - northern Mesopotamia (now Iraq)set just before WWI. I was interested in the archaeology, the location, and the history (waning days of the Ottoman Empire).
I wasn't disappointed. Good characters - the archaeologists, the intriguing diplomats, oil prospector, and local workers and helpers. The geographic and social setting felt very realistic - I lived northwest of there in Turkey in the 1960's. History - ancient and contemporary. All hell was just about to break loose in Europe and the Middle East. Think of WW I which set up WW II and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the prelude to present-day Iraq, which has not yet fallen off our screen!