Book Review: The Thief

26 Feb

689105A Roman centurion longing for peace and a Jewish woman hiding a deadly secret witness a miracle that transforms their lives and leads them to the foot of the cross.

Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure. Desperate to escape the accursed Judean province, he accepts a wager. If he can catch the thieves harassing the marketplace before Passover, he’ll earn a transfer away from the troublemaking Jews.

Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Only with the help of Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, can she keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and a roof over their heads.

When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Longinus longs to learn more about the mysterious healer. Instead, his journey leads him to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures.

Unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, they wonder who this teacher is who heals others but does nothing to save himself. Is the mercy he offers in his teachings real, or just another false promise? Can Nissa and Longinus overcome their pasts to find a future free of their shackles?

The Thief is an evocative story of two people trapped in their circumstances and the life-changing power of forgiveness and love.

SLandsem-205Stephanie Landsem loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.

My Impressions:

Biblical fiction can be a tricky genre to write. There is a balancing act between creating a good story filled with complex characters and an interesting plot and being faithful to Scripture. Stephanie Landsem does a great job at both. The Thief takes the events surrounding Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection and creates a powerfully told story of guilt and forgiveness. This is one book I will wholeheartedly recommend to all readers.

Nissa, or Mouse, is a young Jewish woman trying to survive in Jerusalem. Her father is an abusive gambler, her mother a drunk, and her brother is devout, yet blind from birth, keeping him from full access to the religious world. Longinus is a centurion assigned to this hated part of the Empire. He wants nothing more than to escape Judea and get back to the peace of Gaul. A hardened fighter, Longinus is a study in contrasts — weary of Rome’s brutality, yet consumed with revenge. When Jesus heals Nissa’s brother’s blindness, their worlds are turned upside down. But the miraculous does not always bring comfort or safety or peace.

There are many positives in The Thief. The turmoil, political intrigue and religious dogmatism of the time is brought to vivid life. Landsem does a wonderful job of making real the sights and sounds of first century Jerusalem. The narrative flows naturally and keeps the reader turning the pages. There are elements of romance, suspense and history that will appeal to all readers. The characters are well-developed and complex. And the range of the characters is varied and represents all the players in the world of Jesus — Pharisees, Romans, peasants and nobles. The Biblical record is accurately followed as it weaves throughout this fictional account. But the novel’s greatest achievement is the portrayal of the power, sacrifice, love and forgiveness of the Savior. The account of the Garden of Gethsemane prior to Jesus’ betrayal is especially moving.

If you are going to read only one Biblical fiction novel this year, make sure it is The Thief. And get it quick — it makes a great pre-Easter read.

Highly Recommended.

For more reviews click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse and Howard Books for my review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.

Stephanie is hosting a Kindle Fire HDX and book giveaway at her website. Be sure to check it out.

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4 Responses to “Book Review: The Thief”

  1. Carole February 26, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Loved your impression of this book, Beckie! Did you read her previous book, The Well? Just wondered if it should be read first. Thanks!

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    • rbclibrary February 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

      I have not read The Well. I don’t think it matters. The Thief is pretty much a standalone. But The Well is one I need to check out. Thanks for your comment. Have a great day!

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  2. Stephanie Landsem February 26, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    Thanks for the lovely review, Beckie. The Thief does stand alone, although if you are interested in the backstory of Longinus, the Roman centurion, you’ll see him in The Well.

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    • rbclibrary February 26, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

      I didn’t know the connection — great info. Thanks so much for stopping by. I am putting The Well on my TBR list. 🙂

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