Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Dead Sea Cipher, by Elizabeth Peters (author), Grace Conlin (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, December 2004 (original publication 1970)

Dinah van der Lyn travels to the Holy Land and stumbles into an international intrigue tied to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

She's a young professional opera singer, and the daughter of a Pennsylvania clergyman who has an interest in Biblical archaeology. The tour she has signed up for hasn't even left Beirut yet when Dinah overhears a loud and violent argument in the hotel room next to hers. It ends in murder. Since the argument was in Arabic, Dinah has no idea what was said, but not everyone believes that.

It's 1970, so there are no cell phones or internet access, and trans-Atlantic phone calls are still a very expensive big deal. This changes the pace of events; simple things take longer, and everyone consequently feels more rushed, pressured, and confused. Is Jeff Smith really a professor of archaeology, or an impostor with an obviously fake name? Who is Cartwright? Is Mrs. Marks really the widow of an English clergyman, taking a memorial tour? For that matter, why should anyone believe Dinah is who she says she is?

As they visit major archaeological sites, Dinah chases rumors of new and potentially explosive Dead Sea Scrolls, and tries to figure out who is more dishonest and untrustworthy, Smith or Cartwright. Along the way, she flees armed pursuers through the streets of Jerusalem, and discovers the dubious joys of walking, crawling, and climbing through underground tunnels.

It's a light, entertaining mystery, great for summer reading or listening.

Recommended.

I borrowed this book from the library.