Elizabeth Peters book narrated by Grace Conlin and then I'll take a break. The Dead Sea Cipher, written in 1970, was a reread that I first enjoyed in my 20's. I actually remember the librarian that first told me about Elizabeth Peters. I had already been enjoying this author's works under the name Barbara Michaels. I had no idea that she had another persona. I recall that very nice lady telling me that if I liked mysteries and funny mysteries at that, I should try Crocodile On The Sandbank, the first Amelia Peabody book. And, she said, this author also writes some contemporary (or what was contemporary at that time) books that are just as witty and humorous.
As Die For Love poked gentle fun at romance writers and conferences, The Dead Sea Cipher is a spoof on spy novels, James Bond, and the like. Plus archaeology - Biblical archaeology. There are secrets and hidden clues, bus tours and shoppers who get kidnapped, fights and bodies and guns, and spies - yes, there are spies. The setting is the Middle East - Beirut and Damascus, Jericho and Jerusalem. The Dead Sea, the Jordan River, the Mount of Olives.
Dinah van der Lyn is a budding opera singer. She has a new job to report to in Germany. However, before she starts, she goes on a tour of Beirut, Jerusalem, and other significant Holy Land locations. Her father is a minister and noted authority on Biblical archaeology and her mother was a rabbi's daughter. She has been raised knowing something of these sites and she's on a trip that her father, in poor health, is no longer able to make. Her first night in Beirut is an interesting one. She overhears an argument between two men in the room next door. There's a sound of fighting, shouting, a cry for help, and then silence. After reporting the disturbance to a man that she thinks is the night manager of the hotel, Dinah goes back to her room.
All is not well though. The next day Dinah is approached by another man, who asks her questions about the fight she reported. Before she knows it, she's being watched, being questioned by the police, running for her life through hidden tunnels under ancient cities. She's being shot at and questioned again. Is everyone on her tour who they say they are? What did the two men actually fight about? Who is this sunburned stranger who keeps accosting her all along her tour? And what about the other guy - the suave, James Bond-ish one? Who is good and who is not? And who do they all work for?
There's a conspiracy afoot and it concerns the Dead Sea Scrolls, a murder, and some secrets that even governments are trying to keep quiet. And somehow, Dinah is right in the middle of the thing. What happened to her nice, quiet trip?
Again, this book is a bit dated. Lots of smoking. Lots of beautiful Middle Eastern places that are probably not so beautiful now. Conspiracies and rumors of things that other authors use in later, very popular books. And the Beatles on cassette. I love it, yet again. I find Dinah funny and especially her sunburned stranger. I'm still in that very nice librarian's debt for her suggestion so many years ago.