Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of The Thief by Stephanie Landsem

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My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

The Thief


Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Abandoned by the God she once loved, her only recourse is to depend upon Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, to keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and the landlord satisfied. 

Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure and is desperate to escape the accursed Judean province. Accepting a wager that will get him away from the aggravating Jews and their threats of revolt, he sets out to catch the thieves harassing the marketplace. 

When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Nissa hopes for freedom from her life of lies. But the supposed miracle brings only more misfortune, and Longinus, seeking to learn more about the mysterious healer, finds himself drawn instead to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures. 

Cedron, Longinus, and Nissa are unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. As danger closes in on them from every side, they must decide if the love and redemption Jesus offers is true or just another false promise. How can the so-called Messiah save them from their shackles, when he cannot even save himself?


Exciting and compelling, the scenes written so realistically that moments of holding my breath during the tense drama of this saga were literally “breathtaking.” My personal reading appetite for Biblical fiction mixed with fact was satiated upon complete digestion of The Thief by Stephanie Landsem. My imagination needed no help as the characters leaped into my mind lucidly through Ms. Landsem’s colorful word paintings describing ancient Jerusalem in a wholly distinctive approach during the most life changing events to ever occur.

Nissa, a shrewish unmarried Jewish woman feeling abandoned by God, was pressed to provide for her household and blind younger brother Cedron. Their uncaring and abusive parents were sinful addicts, her mother to wine – her father to gambling. There are the usual traits peculiar to human nature at all times, it seems. Nissa has a secret about her relationship to Mouse and the Greek Dismas, both talented thieves. Cedron could be a depiction of the blind man healed by a mysterious healer in the Pools of Siloam. One might think the parents would be overjoyed over Cedron’s healing, however their unwarranted shame caused their complete abandonment and disowning of Cedron and Nissa, again left to fend for themselves. Longinus, a Roman centurion was a bystander at Cedron’s healing and for the first time noticed Nissa, to whom he was strangely attracted; as well as questioning the new mixed emotions and amazed curiosity about the miracle he had just witnessed. Could the Hebrew belief of there being only One God be true? Who is this miracle worker called Jesus? Longinus has problems of his own having just lost his best childhood friend and comrade centurion to murder; and assigned the duty to arrest the thieves before Passover to earn a transfer out of Judea. The breed of personalities encapsulating the Roman soldier’s brutality and unmerciful violence was compulsory to author this story to its paramount finality. The supporting cast is spectacular and many surprises and shocks are yet to come.

Ms. Landsem’s research into Biblical history, layout of Jerusalem’s city streets and alley ways, study of religious laws and holy commandments were only a few of the facts that drew this fictional story together as a sensational read. I deeply appreciated the background she drew into each character adding more depth to the story’s significant consequences from the actual incidents. Stephanie Landsem’s narrative brings the glory to God as each character is brought to the foot of the cross to recognize the Messiah. Ms. Landsem’s pen was indeed guided by the master author of the universe. It touched my heart and soul. Well done!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.


Stephanie Landsem
Stephanie writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s backpacked through Germany and Eastern Europe, studied in Salzburg, enjoyed gelato in Italy, rode a camel in Morocco, and floated in the salty Corinthian Sea. Her favorite cities are Rome, Berlin and Budapest. Her travels kindle her imagination, fuel her love of history and foreign culture, and introduce her to one-of-a-kind characters.
Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband of 22 years, four children, three fat cats, and a tortoise named Moe. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, volunteering at church and school, battling dandelions, and dreaming about her next adventure – whether it be in person or on the page.

Author, The Living Water Series: The Well, The Thief, The Tomb. Authentic, fast-paced Biblical fiction from Howard Books. Introvert. Traveler.

Favorite Books

Jane Austen, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, The Book Thief, The Hunger Games, Terry Pratchett, Dean Koonz


2011 Genesis Finalst
2010 SCBWI mentorship award

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