A highly prized al-Qaeda operative not Arab, but English convinces his Guantánamo Bay interrogators he is a mere Afghani taxi driver. Upon his release, he treks across the vast Saudi desert known as the Empty Quarter to reunite with his terrorist ''family.'' British suspense master Seymour dazzles with commanding language and meticulous detail, fleshing out the lost-in-translation world of foreign nationals, expats, and intelligence agents mired in the Mideast murk. But what makes Soldier a cut above the usual war-on-terror thriller is how it parses the mindset of the frontline grunt, from those who find identity in a terrorist cell to those who hunt evildoers with distancing technology. On the blank, searing sands of the Empty Quarter, Seymour reveals how an ordinary need to feel special can be just as dangerous as religious extremism.