The major event of the plot is an anarchist conspiracy to blow up the Greenwich Observatory. An "agent provocateur", Verloc, is the man caught in the middle, a pawn in a game played by a high-ranking Russian diplomat, a leading police inspector and, on the other side, the sometimes clumsy and ineffectual anarchists. One example of the characterisation immediately sticks in the mind of the reader, long after completing the novel. It is the character of the mysterious Professor, a misanthrope and angel of destruction, who supplies Verloc with the explosives needed to carry out the plot and who embodies nihilism at its most extreme. Joseph Conrad is known for his dense and sometimes contorted prose, and the style of "The Secret Agent" is no exception. Though no great storyteller, he nevertheless demonstrates that he is a psychologist of the first order, in his searching analyses of character and motive. The novel is partly a domestic tragedy, a highly innovative and experimental early Modernist work, a darkly humorous tale with lashings of "schadenfreude" and an esponage thriller that anticipates, in many ways, the best and most recent examples of the genre.