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The Jesus Thief Hardcover – March 15, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Two novels have been published this year in the odd genre of Christ cloning: James BeauSeigneur's In His Image, and Lankford's Jesus Thief. Lankford's narrative is as eccentric as BeauSeigneur's, but she's more interested in characterization than technical background. Her Dr. Frankenstein is a rich physician named Felix Rossi, who, with elaborate subterfuge, manages to steal some threads from the shroud of Turin. Rossi believes himself an agent of the Second Coming. He prevails upon his long-suffering girlfriend to be his Mary, but she retreats in horror. Maggie Johnson, the maid, volunteers. As it happens, she's black. And a virgin. This is great stuff, and while Lankford's thriller plot occasionally intrudes, the delightful Maggie keeps everything on track. John Mort
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"A gripping and original novel ... raging controversy ... sharply written, thoroughly entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking" -- Midwest Book Review, February 1, 2003

"It's all tremendous, page-turning fun." -- John Grant, Co-Editor Encyclopedia of Fantasy, January 31, 2003

"The Jesus Thief is a fascinating thriller [with] excellent symbolism ... Its pace rockets along to a touching conclusion. -- Heartland Reviews, Jan/Feb 2003

"This is great stuff!" -- Booklist (starred review), March 1, 2003

2003 Book of the Year Award Finalist -- ForeWord Magazine

2004 Best First Fiction Finalist -- PMA Benjamin Franklin Awards

A marvelous novel...lucid and accomplished with an utterly riveting plot that twists and turns to a thrilling conclusion." -- BookBrowse, December, 2002

A taut thriller that tackles religion with as much aplomb as it does the science behind cloning -- Relevant Magazine, Sep/Oct 2003

Not since Michael Chrichton has a novelist offered such a believable glimpse into [cloning]... Keep your eye on this author. -- Books Monthly, June 2003

The science is impeccable, the writing superb, the plot exciting, the climax breathtaking. --, April 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Great Reads Books (March 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0971869413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971869417
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,846,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My husband snapped these photos of me in 1986 when we became engaged, a pivotal event for my future as an author because, seven years later, he agreed I should quit the very fulfilling international career in electrical engineering I'd been pursuing and stay in this country more. He knew I wanted to write fiction, but the idea terrified me. I didn't know how to begin, though I could almost feel the words trying to get out. After months of avoidance, I set an appointment with myself, just as I had in business. I would become a writer on July 28, 1993 at 6: 30 a.m. No phones, no email, no interruptions. I would sit down and write the first scene of my first novel. And I did.

Not having studied creative writing, I didn't yet see the wizard behind the curtain -- the elements of craft behind the art. For painters it's perspective, composition, etc. For singers its breath control, phrasing. For novelists it's point of view, scene and sequel, characterization, plot, narrative voice. Luckily, a knowledgeable person pointed out that, as a result, my first novel was unreadable. A revelation. Chagrined, I headed straight for the bookstore, bought everything I could find on fiction writing then settled in, studying like I was back in school. I didn't come up for air until I had a clear understanding of the tools of my trade.

What compelled me to do this was love of words, the lure of story. People tell me that even as a child I made up stories. To me, nothing sounds more magical than, "Once upon a time." Even the cliched, "It was a dark and stormy night," sends my imagination spinning. Where and when is this dark night and who is telling us about it? Is she or he drenched, by any chance? Why is she out in the storm? How will he find shelter? Is there a road? What's at the end of it? Irresistible. At age eleven I fell in love with the French author, Sidonie Colette, and by the time I left for college I'd read every novel in the house -- Balzac, Buck, Flaubert, Dickens, Hemingway, Hugo, Steinbeck, Richard Wright and so many more. It didn't cross my mind that I might one day be a writer, too.

THE JESUS THIEF was my breakthrough. It hit the Amazon mystery/thriller bestseller list, earned a starred review from BOOKLIST, was nominated for awards, optioned for Hollywood film and translated into five languages. One eminent cloning scientist expressed concern that the book's scientific detail was so convincing, readers might think the story was real. Obstacles seemed to melt away as I wrote, traveling to Italy and New York for on-site research. Writing the sequel, THE SECRET MADONNA, was an equal joy. The next one is entitled THE SACRED IMPOSTOR. THE COVERT MESSIAH, book 4, due, had me yearning to get on a plane to Tanzania, where part of it takes place. Now in 2015, I'm polishing what feels like the final book in the series: THE ENEMY APOSTLE. It takes the characters from a quaint town on Italy's Lake Como to Milan and Paris Fashion weeks, to NYC's Upper East Side, to the Hamptons then back to Italy for the dramatic finale.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By D. F. Norris on April 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some time ago, I was privileged to be invited to read Ms. Lankford's first book, "The Crowning Cicle". So much did I enjoy it that when "The Jesus Thief" came out, I was anxious to read it. The premise was fascinating (the cloning of Jesus Christ). The beauty of this book is that, although the underlying theme relates to Christianity, the book avoids any religious dogma. I am Jewish, and I enjoyed this book thoroughly. We know the science exists for cloning. Ms. Lankford has done her homework and her knowledge of cloning and medical procedures is astounding. So is her knowledge of different religions. Her research for this book much have been incredible. This book will have broad appeal, both for people who are religious, and for those who prefer science. The book successfully juxtaposes both, without making any judgment as to the correctness of either. The characters are well developed, and very early on in the book I made my alliance with Maggie, a simple but spiritual Black woman, who becomes the fulcrum upon which the story balances. The other character I particulalry liked was Sam, an Irish doorman whose role in the story grows and develops in ways you will never predict. There are darkly sinister characters as well, including the reclusive Mr. Brown, and in between are two of the main characters, Felix Rossi, the doctor who attempts the cloning, and his sister Fran, who is far more skeptical about the procedure than her brother. There is real magic in this book,and whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic, or even Athiest, you cannot help but be enthralled with just the concept of cloning Jesus, and as stated before, Ms. Lankford embraces all beliefs in the concept of the second coming (ie. birth) of the Jesus clone. Once started, this book cannot be put down, and it left me appreciating the wonder of faith, in whatever form it might take. Please do yourself a favor and read this magnificent book. It will leave you breathless.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joylene Nowell Butler on February 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When Dr. Felix Rossi, a devoted Catholic, learns that his parents were actually Jews who had escaped Nazi Italy, he's devastated. In a state of shock, guilt, & trepidation, he steals threads from the shroud in hopes to clone the Christ Jesus. When I read that premise, having already read her first novel The Crowning Circle & knowing what an exceptional storyteller J.R. Lankford was, I couldn't wait to read The Jesus Thief. And what a powerful read it was. The Jesus Thief is an intelligent, touching, poignant story about a man and a woman who love God with such tenderness that their faith makes anything seem possible.
I think what I liked best about The Jesus Thief is that Ms. Lankford creates endearing, imperfect characters, a believable plot, & an honest depiction of today's Christianity. I highly recommended this read. It's not often that I'm entertained & left hopeful at the same time.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Jones on February 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have just finished reading The Jesus Thief, it only took me a few days and late nights, as I couldn't bear to put it down. I just had to know what happened next. This is the second of JR Lankford's books I have read, her first -The Crowning Circle I thought would be hard to better, but The Jesus Thief surpasses it and then some. The story and JR Lankford's descriptive powers are such that the reader feels that they are part of the breathless race. At first you think that the idea behind this novel is somewhat far fetched but believe me once you start into the story you begin to wonder if indeed not only is it possible but almost probable, such is the strength of this novel. A brilliant idea, brilliantly projected by the awesome writing powers of the author. If you only buy one book this year make sure it is The Jesus Thief. It undoubtedly will be a best seller. Congratulations and well done JR Lankford, I can't wait for your third novel.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "73054202" on January 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As the world braces for the inevitable birth of the first human clone, J.R. Lankford's The Jesus Thief ratchets up the level of ethical and moral debate with its chilling "what if" scenario. What if a scientist chooses not merely to play God, but to create God? Dr. Felix Rossi, a physician-scientist brilliant enough and wealthy enough to achieve miracles, hopes to do just that, by cloning Jesus from blood dried on the Shroud of Turin. For fans of fast-paced medical/scientific thrillers, The Jesus Thief delivers a smartly plotted, can't-put-it-down adventure that incorporates cutting edge technology in a way that makes the story frighteningly believable. But this book will also appeal to a broader audience. With Lankford's deft handling of the subject matter, readers will be torn between racing to turn the page and pausing to ponder the implications of what Felix is doing -- whether or not he succeeds. Read the book. It will make you think. Use it in your book club, and plan to run over time with debate.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Tipple VINE VOICE on December 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Felix Rossi is a devout Catholic and as this amazing novel opens, about to examine the holy Shroud of Turin. While science has been unable to prove that the ancient burial cloth wrapped his body at death, Dr. Rossi has always believed that it covered the body of Jesus Christ. He has contemplated trying to take a sample from the cloth and using his experience and skills, attempting to clone Jesus Christ. Theoretically it is possible and as he stares at the burial cloth he knows that given the opportunity he would be successful. With the knowledge of a painful family secret having just been revealed to him moments earlier, he makes the impetus move to steal two blood stained threads from the holy cloth.
While he is successful with the theft, he soon discovers that the theft was the easy part. Not only does he have to culture the DNA to the point where he can use it, he also must begin a search for his very own Virgin Mary. At the same time, he must fend off a nosy reporter who suspects the truth from the beginning and deal with powerful forces here and abroad that want to put a stop to his cloning efforts. Along the tumultuous journey, he must also confront his own belief system as well as the repercussion his action set into motion as it shatters those closest to him.
Following up on her novel "The Crowning Circle," J. R. Lankford brings another novel where deeply intense character development moves the work forward. This is an intellectual novel which will bore those looking for a quick read. This is an intriguing novel that repeatedly raises questions of faith and humanity while providing suspense and complicated plotting. How does one define God, the point that life begins, cloning, and what it means to be human are just a few of the many questions raised with no easy answers.
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