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The Dead Sea Cipher

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,944 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
It was the start of a grand adventure in a land of antiquity, a rare opportunity to visit biblical places shrouded in mystery. But in a Jerusalem hotel room a world away from everything she knows, Dinah van der Lyn hears angry voices through the wall, followed by a crash and a brief cry in English...for help!

The brutal shattering of an evening's stillness becomes a prelud
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published (first published 1970)
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(showing 1-30)
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Spare me from the idiocy of virginal goody-goody heroines. Because Elizabeth Peters has written some very good books with strong female characters, I am going to say that these books are more of a reflection of the culture at the time (1970s) than anything else. I read this book many years ago and I'm sure I loved it then. I noticed it wasn't on my Goodreads shelf so I decided to read it again. Ugh. Cannot do it. It's intensely stupid and another example the types of books Peters seemed to excel ...more
Lisa Greer
Apr 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I began this one while it was storming outside last night. :) It is okay so far, not too gripping, though, from the outset.

This one is getting more interesting, and the setting is a bit different as is the main character and her background. Her father is a minister with an archaeology interest. So, that's pretty neat and different for one of Peters' novels.

***I'm over halfway done with this one. It is good, but more of a historical trip for the reader than anything. The Holy Land is covered p
This story moved slower than molasses in January, and oh so boring. I tried to pick out things which kept my interest but alas found nothing worthwhile. Some of the places described the author were awesome but all in all this was a 'did not finish' for me.

Should I be inclined someday that I want to try again, I do have this paperback on my keeper shelf at home. But for now, this audio is going back to the library.
Jun 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is one of Peter's early books, and it shows. Still, if you can enjoy old-fashioned romantic-suspense, Peter's ability to create interesting minor characters makes this one worth reading. The dialogue is a little stiff and the ending definitely isn't believable, but again Peter's makes it fun.

Some reviewers have complained about the stupid mistakes Dinah makes in the story, but the truth is she's not the only one who does some careless things.

You can see some similarities between this and
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Peters is one of my favorite authors! So I was excited to see a book of hers I hadn't read yet. While this book is similar to her "peabody series" it has some of its own adorable quirks. The main character is an opera singer with an ear for languages. After hearing some strange things from the room next door. It starts her on the path to collide with very interesting characters. While at times some of the conclusions the people in the book jump to seem a bit far fetched it is delivered ...more
Paula Howard
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Dead Sea Cipher, Dinah is going on a trip to the Holy Land for and in place of her father. While there she becomes entangled with Tony, a U.S. government official and Jeff a Biblical Scholar. Both are looking for recently found scrolls. Who on the trip can be trusted? Is anyone whom they say they are?

The Dead Sea Cipher wasn't quite what I had expected it to be. While it had the making of the type of book I would typically read.... it was a little too fluff for me. With that being said it
Oct 05, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, the title is good, but this is the least Elizabeth Peters-y EP book ever. Excessively traditional and my loathing for Dinah was complete when she was sorry to have to go to her fabulous job because she would be separated from her Love. Ghastly. The farce at the end was this book's only saving grace. Took me a month to read on audio. The only bad EP I have ever read.
ETA: ok one other good point: Dinah's father can't travel because he is in a wheelchair, but that wouldn't be true today - I w
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
These older books by Elizabeth Peters are so frustrating to read, and this one was no exception! The basic plot is a good one, along the lines of an Agatha Christie, but her characters act in such an unrealistic and contradictory manner that the story just doesn't work. Her characters all seem like adults as envisioned by a twelve-year-old. There are gaps in the story where actions and situations aren't explained, sort of like a badly-edited movie. Her writing definitely improved with time, but ...more
Kate McLachlan
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My second favorite Elizabeth Peters book, right after Crocodile on the Sandbank. This book is a stand-alone, which is as it should be. If you're interested in biblical archaeology, mixed with adventure and romance, you will love this book. Elizabeth Peters' characters are realistic (in a larger than life kind of way -- it works), but they're having so much fun you just want to be on the adventure with them, and you feel as if you are.
Jane Chizmar
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great suspense and action. Very heavy into Bible of which I am not but still held my interest and looking for more from Elizabeth Peters.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Somewhat dated (and sad because of it: the characters travel through undamaged Lebanon and Syria in a way we can’t imagine today) and containing another unbelievable plot. Peters never fills in details when she doesn’t have to (she’s willing to leave a lot to the readers’ imaginations), which is a strength when writing a story as wild as this one.
I love Elizabeth Peters' wit. This is not an Amelia Peabody or Vicky Bliss novel, but Dinah is still fun. It's also fun to read an EP book set in a modern (ish, it was at publication in 1970) era. Dinah doesn't have the agency AP has, but still a fun book. Particularly fun if you have Biblical manuscript details in your head as well.
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was good but very slow to start which I am not used to with her books. I am a fan of her Amelia Peabody books so this was a bit different. I enjoyed Dinah going to all those places that I want to visit.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, mystery
I really enjoyed this fun archaeological thriller. The academic detail was spot on, as usual. The romance felt very forced, and began with him being a controlling stalker, so I'm not as much of a fan of that.
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Elizabeth Peters book. Definitely not my last. Loved the twists and turns and the archaeology.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh! Just wasted 8 hours of my life.
Victoria Raun
This is simply not as good as her Peabody books. I enjoyed the descriptions of the Middle East, but was not so impressed with the plot and character development.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Dead Sea Cipher” has been trampled by one-star feedback that lacked any open-minded explanations. Boredom was spouted and that this novel “doesn’t go the way a mystery usually does”. I should think not. It entails the most coveted of archaeological sojourns, with the benefit of being penned by a graduate of that profession! Historical facts pertinent to the places we traverse: Beirut, Jordan, and Bethlehem itself; are a gift to the sponges that readers are supposed to be! They are imparted ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lis Carey
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 t
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While I have to respect such a beloved author, I did not like this book. It was reasonably entertaining at times, but it took be forever to finish because I simply couldn't get into the characters. I wish there would have been more of the mystery/action/adventure aspect of the novel and less of the romance - and I'm not a romance hater... it just totally didn't work in this book. I'll give you an example:

She stumbled over the words, a little dazed at the state of her own feelings. Her job, her c
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Dinah travels to Jerusalem, because it was one of her father’s greatest hopes to travel there, but with him ending up in a wheel chair that hope is crushed. So being the marvelous daughter she is decides to let him vicariously live out his dream journey through a bunch of postcards and her travel journal. Everything goes along smoothly until one night in the hotel she’s staying at Dinah overhears a heated conversation in Arabic and a cry for help shouted in English. Even though she doesn’t know ...more
Mar 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I believe this is the one of the first of the "non-series" books written by Barbara Michaels aka Elizabeth Peters. The setting is the 1970's, and some of the characters are listening to the Beatles on transistor radios, annoying the rest of the tour group, computers and cell phones are non-existent (people make expensive "trans-Atlantic" phone calls), boys are wearing their hair long, and psychedelic clothes are "in." But other than these anachronisms, I found the novel delightful. I have read a ...more
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
There are patterns I expect from an Elizabeth Peters (or Barbara Michaels) novel: the respectable young lady with more intelligence and humor than is strictly "proper," the handsome hero who immediately rouses her temper, sparring between hero and heroine, a mystery tied in some way to antiquities, adventures in interesting climates, and supporting characters who are not what they seem to be. This book delivered them all. The fact that there is a formula to it made it no less enjoyable. In fact, ...more
May 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reminds me of Agatha Christie's They Came to Baghdad in almost every way. This is okay with me, as They Came to Baghdad is one of my top three Christie favorites.

Like Peter's other novel I read, this one seems curiously out of time. It was published in 1970, but I kept imagining it in the late 20's or the 1930s. Possibly because it reminded me so much of the Christie novel. It is definately meant to be in the time period which it was published, as some fairly spectacular 1960-ish style
When Dinah Van der Lyn travels to the Holy Land she finds herself thrust into the middle of an international plot involving the possible discovery of an ancient scroll that, if brought to light, would likely turn the Christian world on end. Danger and intrigue follow her through the Middle East, as do two handsome young men. Which, if either, should she trust?

I think I could describe this fairly accurately and simply as a dated Da Vinci Code light, (yes, it is possible to find a lighter work tha
Aug 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It began as a tour of the holy land with scheduled visits to various places of importance in biblical history. The tour turns into more of an adventure than she was prepared for when Dinah van der Lyn hears angry voices through the wall of her hotel room in Beirut. A crash and a brief cry for help (in English)is the beginning of a journey filled with spies and counter spies. Dinah finds herself dragged into a situation she knows nothing about but is unable to convince the main players involved o ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The characters were not well developed. Someone said in another review the characters came across as adults through the eyes of a twelve year old. They hit the mark with that comment. The "love story" was ill placed and not plausible. The protagonist was a ditzy know it all. She did foolish things no one would do at the same time she is supposed to be a well educated young woman from a respectable family. Knowing people were after her, she would go exploring on her own at every turn. I found her ...more
Apr 24, 2011 rated it liked it
One of my (if not my absolute) favourite works by Elizabeth Peters.

It's much the same as all her others in terms of language and plot, so I'm not quite sure why this one stands out so much for me. Perhaps content or subject matter. It's far-fetched, a trademark of Peters, but it lacks the absurdity found in most of her others works, which I appreciated very much in this.

The blurb is wrong. She doesn't hear the cry for help in Jerusalem but in Beirut, where the story starts.
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  • The Walker in Shadows
Elizabeth Peters is a pen name of Barbara Mertz. She also wrote as Barbara Michaels as well as her own name. Born and brought up in Illinois, she earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago. Mertz was named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar Awards in 1998. She lived in a historic farmhouse in Frede ...more
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