Sapir, who fashioned lively, readable novels from tired premises in The Body and The Far Arena, has done it again: Quest is a surprisingly gripping present-day detective-search for the Holy Grail. When a midwestern businessman offers a jewel-studded gold saltcellar for sale out of a New York bank vault, he provokes some fervent interest. While most viewers are thrilled by several giant jewels, the British government is convinced that this cellar, stolen from Britain in post-WW II chaos, is fashioned around a clay bowl that's none other than the Holy Grail itself. After the businessman's inevitable murder, his sweet daughter Claire is promptly swindled out of the cellar. As a tribute to her adored father, she resolves to recover it. Enlisting the support of Attic Modelstein, an investigator in NYPD's Frauds/Jewels division, Claire educates herself--through libraries, university researchers--on the history of saltcellars, the movement of jewels throughout history. Harry Rawson, a special British agent, is also hotly pursuing the remains of the cellar, which has--of course--been broken down by the thief. And Artie, who's putting out feelers in the jewelry world, finds himself drawn to the fiercely pure Claire. The results? Claire figures out just what it was she once owned, while Rawson ruthlessly traces the present-day paths of the major stones in search of the ""poorish bowl."" Claire's more an idea than a character: her unswerving ability to get right at the essential truth irritates, her strength, bravery and stick-to-it-iveness strain credibility. But in all: well-oiled action, embellished by glittering jewelry-lore.