A Soul of Steel (Irene Adler #3) by Carole Douglas

Chapter One WHEN TWO STRONG MEN... Near SANGBUR, AFGHANISTAN: July 25,1880 In the very lap of Asia lies a land so fierce and desolate—if not undefended—that were the demons of every faith to collaborate in creating a Hell that would prostrate Christian, Hebrew and Moslem alike in united terror, its name would remain... Afghanistan. Stretching horizontally across the neck of the Indian subcontinent like a hangman’s noose, Afghanistan bridges Persia on the west and Tibet and China on the east; British India on the south; and to the north—the great outstretched Russian bearclaw. Searing in summer and frigid in winter, this unholy landscape huddles behind the scimitar curves of two great mountain ranges—the Himalayas and Karakorum on the east, and on the west the six hundred ridged miles of the Hindu Kush. Wherever men of adventure and a martial bent gather, the Hindu Kush is spoken of in awed tones. To the timid home-bound soul, it is enough to say that the phrase translates as “dead Hindu.” No wonder is it that neither India nor Russia has extended its borders to meet across this dread wasteland. Nor is it any w
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