A pleasantly unpretentious debut introduces retired florist Theo Bloomer, dignified offshoot of old Connecticut money and prestige. His spoiled niece Dorrie is refusing to leave the Dead Sea kibbutz, where she's landed after leaving a Greek tour conducted by one of her Wellesley professors. Dispatched to Israel by mildly distraught sister Nadine, Theo finds Dorrie determined not to leave college roommate Judith Feldhein, who has fallen for limp kibbutznik Hershel Waskow, picked up in Athens with friend Gideon Adler, whose widowed mother Miriam manages the kibbutz hotel. Theo's restrained attempts to persuade Dorrie to come home and his even more restrained courtship of the attractive Miriam are interrupted by the possibly accidental death of retarded hotel maid Essie and the undoubted murder of Gideon. Thee finds himself in a maelstrom of cave treasures, terrorism, embezzlement and conflicting aims and personalities--all of which have to be sorted out before he can accomplish his original mission. Competent, fresh and often funny, the story makes the most of its exotic background and the dry wit of its unlikely hero. A flourishing beginning.