The Thief

A Novel

The Thief

A 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.

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

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?
  • Howard Books | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451689105 | 
  • February 2014
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Thief includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Stephanie Landsem. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


The second book in The Living Water Series, The Thief tells the story of two unlikely friends—a Roman centurion and a poor Jewish girl living in first-century Jerusalem during the height of Jesus’ ministry. Longinus, the Roman centurion, feels aimless in the wake of his friend’s tragic death, while Nissa is overwhelmed by guilt about her secret life as a thief. Together they witness Jesus restore sight to Nissa’s blind brother, and increasingly find themselves drawn toward this healer and prophet. Could Jesus be the answer to their prayers?  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. “You aren’t worth dying for, Mouse. Nobody is” (p. 12). Discuss this first introduction to Mouse and Dismas, the two best thieves in Jerusalem. How would you characterize them? How does this statement foreshadow later events in the story? Do you think it’s possible to be both a “good” and “bad” person? Use examples from see more

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About the Author

Stephanie Landsem
Photograph by J Dunn Photography

Stephanie Landsem

Stephanie Landsem writes historical fiction because she 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.