Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader, volunteers reading the Bible to the elderly, and makes handmade jewelry. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter.
Author: Stephanie Landsem
Publisher: Howard Books
“But if she couldn’t do as the centurion said, he could arrest her. And if he found out what she carried in her belt – who she really was – he’d turn her over to the Sanhedrin, and they would get the stoning they had been denied,” Nissa ponders in Stephanie Lansem’s book, The Thief: A Novel.
Second in the Living Water series, this three hundred and sixty-eight page paperback targets those fascinated with the Biblical events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. With no profanity, the topic of prostitution, murder, torture, and abuse makes the tome geared toward mature adults. This reader wishes all pronouns related to God were capitalized for reverence.
Twenty year old Nissa lives daily as a Jew with a deadly secret, helping her gambling father and alcoholic mother take care of her older brother blinded at birth. When Jesus comes to Jerusalem and cures Cedron of his blindness, the Sanhedrin banishes him as an am-ha-arez while his parents disown both children.
Meanwhile, Roman centurion Longinus hates his post in the Judean province, keeping order within the busy marketplace, especially when he fails time and time again trying to catch two crafty thieves. When a priest is murdered, the guard wagers his prized sword to deliver the pickpockets in exchange to leave the horrid city forever.
Yet as Nissa, Cedron, and Longinus hear about this man named Jesus who heals, forgives and loves unconditionally, the three must decide where their loyalties lay and to whom allegiance should be given.
Nissa, questioning if God can forgive her of her deepest sins, becomes strangely noticed by Longinus but fears his hatred and retribution if he learns the truth about her. Waiting for the Jewish revolution of the coming Messiah, Cedron tries to protect his sister by leading Longinus away from finding Jesus and the thieves while the soldier finds failure or death wherever he goes.
Interlaced are Biblical accounts such as Stephen’s peace, Peter’s betrayal, Judas Iscariot’s kiss, and Barabbas’s release along with Jesus praying at Gethsemane, beaten by soldiers, hanging on the cross, and resurrecting from the dead. Although the author takes vast liberties involving the three main characters, the memorable storyline merges with strong emotions, human compassion, and physical heartbreak.
As the King of the Jews dies on the cross and sheds His blood, Nissa and Longinus learn sacrifice and forgiveness are the keys to become whom God wants them to be. Well-written with intensity and tenderness, readers relive the amazing grace of Christ’s ultimate love when He died for all our sins.
Thanks to Howard Books for furnishing this book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s opinions.