Before anyone who is not familiar with Israel/Palestine history reads this story I would advise them to Google (1) University of Texas, Israel Maps & (2) West Bank, Wikipedia. I myself find it essential to know the geographical and political background before I can enjoy a novel like this. Moreover it has changed dramatically since 1961 when this novel was written. I refer to the wars of 1967 and 1973.
The first time I read the story I just couldn't take it all in, partly for the reason just explained, and partly because there is a fair number of different characters of both sexes, English, Jewish and Arab, and a variety of locations in both in Jerusalem and Jordan. There are also time shifts in the storyline. However having looked at the foregoing references the second time around was a much more enjoyable experience.
The principal character (Barbara Vaughan) is a spinster in a relationship with an archaeologist,Harry, who is working in Jordan on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Barbara is half Jewish (on her mother's side) but has adopted the Catholic faith. Her partner is divorced but they are hoping to square this with Rome so that she can marry him in good faith.
She is followed to Israel by another spinster, her former buddy Ricky (owner/head of a private school where Barbara taught Literature) who was somewhat miffed by the news of Barbara's liaison.
Much of the story revolves about Ricky trying to catch up with Barbara who has passed through the Mandelbaum Gate into Jordan (as then was) to meet up with Harry and visit a number of the classical Biblical sights. For security reasons these peregrinations take on a cloak and dagger aspect.
However there is more, much more to the story: interracial relationships, a spy in the British Consulate/Embassy. The Eichmann trial is also a backdrop to the story. All in all it is a real page turner. I shall no doubt read it a third time.