THE DEAD SEA CIPHER, By Elizabeth Peters

Published in 1970, this early Peters book shows the great promise of this prolific, long-honored author. A young woman tours the mid-east. She is sucked into a mysterious (a tad too mysterious, but there’s a major learning curve in writing) search for…what, exactly? In Jerusalem, things come to a head and all the odd characters in the tour group meet at deserted, sun-blasted Qumran in a mad, deadly dash for something so valuable it’s worth murdering for. As always, Peters nails her surroundings, her history, her art. This is a jolly little read, good for a Sunday afternoon in a hammock. And you can say you read Elizabeth Peters way back when, before Amelia Peabody came into being and made Peters the celebrity she so richly deserves to be. It’s a 3+.