Customer Reviews: The Lord Is My Shepherd: The Psalm 23 Mysteries #1
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VINE VOICEon March 9, 2010
For years, the trend in Christian fiction has been to make books as ecumenical as possible. So when a church is mentioned, it's usually given a generic name that could fit almost any denomination. Debbie Viguié makes a bold move in The Lord is My Shepherd. Not only does she make her mystery-solving church secretary a Presbyterian, but then she pairs her up with the Rabbi from the temple next door. Together, Cindy and Jeremiah must unravel the clues leading them to a serial killer. As they are constantly thrown together, they forge a bond of trust and friendship that transcends their religious beliefs.

Viguié's book packs a double whammy. First, it's a great mystery. As the clues unfolded and the tension increased, I found it harder and harder to put the book down to deal with real-life issues. Second, it's a wonderful story of two people from two very different backgrounds who discover that, at heart, they're not so different after all. The friendship that grows between Cindy and Jeremiah is very sweet, and what they learn about each other's faiths is illuminating.

The Lord is My Shepherd is the first of The Psalm 23 Mysteries, so fans of this book will get to meet Cindy and Jeremiah again when I Shall Not Want comes out in Fall 2010. It will be interesting to see how Viguié handles the friendship between her Presbyterian secretary and the intriguing Rabbi. If it blooms into something more tinged with romance (which many readers will expect it to) there will be some controversial faith issues to deal with. But I'm confident this series will deliver in stellar fashion. Kudos to Viguié and to Abingon Press!

NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for reviewing purposes
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VINE VOICEon March 7, 2010
Cindy Preston led a pretty boring life as a church secretary until the Monday before Easter when she tripped over a body in the church's sanctuary. Considering what was left at the scene, it appeared highly likely that the killer was a member of the church. Cindy soon learned this body wasn't the first murder of the day. A few hours earlier, police had found another victim and it appeared highly probable that these two deaths were linked. Within days, more bodies were discovered and it quickly became apparent there was a serial killer in town--one who had killed before in other towns and in much the same way.

Surprisingly, Cindy kept finding herself near the victims. Was she a target or the audience? With numerous questions and a killer who left behind little evidence, authorities were baffled, and the bodies kept turning up. Eventually, feeling divinely led to help, Cindy and the Rabbi from the synagogue adjacent to the church, began to see how the pieces fit together, but could they locate the killer before his final production? In a mystery full of mystery, The Lord Is My Shepherd is both inventive and highly entertaining.

I love a good serial killer novel, and this is a nice one. It's a bit different than others in this genre in that it doesn't focus its attention on the method of killing as much as the process and production of the murders. It was a good change and kept the ick factor down while maintaining a good level of suspense. Though it has a high body count, because the gore is low this is a great choice for those who like a good serial killer mystery, but not a lot of blood.

The themes and motives of the murderer were excellent. I completely enjoyed this portion of the book and felt it was the highlight. The plot was well planned and worked perfectly with the characters. I struggled a bit with the apparent competent ignorance of the detectives working the case. I'm not sure how they could have missed some of the connections they did, but apparently their official computer database was not as comprehensive or useful as the internet. Additionally, the killer is revealed much earlier than I would have liked, but given the rest of the mystery surrounding this story there was still plenty to enjoy.

An aspect of this book which Viguié beautifully incorporated was the Jewish Rabbi, Jeremiah and Passover week. I adore Jewish history and traditions included in novels. They tend to add a wonderful richness to stories and bring the Christian faith back to its roots. While I thoroughly loved what was included, a nice addition would have been if the elements of the Passover meal would have been related to the Christian faith. This would have been a nice way to include Christian themes in a noninvasive manner. I liked the point of view in which most of the spiritual aspects were presented. Using Jeremiah as the primary voice for spiritual insight was quite effective. It highlighted the quest and the mystery of understanding God and his purpose that many religions share. Viguié did an excellent job in this area, easily blending faith with fiction without interrupting the story.

This book had many likable characters and I enjoyed getting to know them. I'm glad this is the first book in a series because I felt like I only got a brief introduction to each one. They are at times surprising and at other times frustrating, but are always easy to relate to. This book handled the church aspect very well. The characters did not act fake in their interactions or with their feelings. I appreciated that as a reader I wasn't inundated with trite words of comfort and recycled lectures. Viguié did a great job in making the church feel like a church, complete with bickering and internal rivalries. It might not be how it should be, but definitely reflects what often does happen.

The Lord Is My Shepherd is a very good serial killer mystery. Its strength was not in the gore and creative ways to kill, but rather in the presentation and the motivation. The discovery of the identity of the killer was a bit anticlimactic, but the mystery surrounding his background made for a fascinating and entertaining story. I'm already looking forward to the next book in The Psalm 23 Mysteries series.
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on May 20, 2012
This has got to be one of the most horrible books I've ever read. Let's skip over the lack of characterizations, the ridiculousness of having this many murders without calling in the state police or the FBI, the 'magic Jew' rabbi who conveniently pops up to comfort the idiotic and offensively ignorant heroine, and the stupidity of the local police force, who apparently don't believe in taking statements from potential suspects, using the internet to gain info on people who only moved to town a few years before or taking DNA. No, let's skip all that. What I want to know is this. In what era is this book supposed to be set? Apparently this is a science fiction novel, since fingerprinting would have cleared the serial killer of a crime before he became one. And apparently, we are supposed to believe that cops are dumb enough to believe a self-serving accusation from a person of interest in an accidental death case.

I'm not a police officer, but I watch enough Law and Order episodes to know that police don't shrug off gunshot cases that easily. They check to see who loaded the gun, and they interrogate roommates and friends. They would so this even at a small bible college. So how on earth could any of the events that set up the murder spree even happen? Unless this book is set in a small town in the 1830s, it's highly unbelievable. Actually even for then it would have been unbelievable.

I kept reading this book, hoping it would get better. It didn't. It was a train wreck. And as a person who grew up in a Jewish neighborhood and have known Conservative and Orthodox Jews my entire life, I was appalled at the ignorance in this book. Even more so, this might be the only case of a church and synagogue being near each other where the pastor and rabbi have never had a conversation, and the secretaries have never had lunch. I can't even figure out what sect of Judaism the rabbi is from; apparently the author thinks 'Ashkenazim' is a religious denomination instead of an ethnic one. Thank goodness this book is from an obscure publisher, or it might set ecumenical relations back 50 years.
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on October 4, 2011
This was a nice little mystery but I was dumbfounded by the lack of knowledge this author showed about Judaism. Why use a Rabbi as a character in your book if you don't at the very least have a rabbi friend who could edit your information? There were so many mistakes I found myself getting angry at her ignorance. A few of the most glaring errors included:
* Any synagogue that cleaned for a traditional seder could NOT allow the handling money at a seder (additionally, giving each child a silver dollar would be insanely expensive and beyond the capability of most synagogues even if Jews were allowed to handle money on a holiday or Sabbath)
* The day following a seder isn't a day off for a rabbi it is a day for services - the synagogue parking lot would NOT have been empty as the author described but the synagogue would be full of people praying, not running or picnicking in a park.
* The prayer over the wine at the seder is a mess and does indeed contain a mixture of two disparate blessings and an addendum for the holiday of Sukkot, not Passover. The two seders are so badly described that look much more like a church's pre-Easter seder event than a Jewish festival.
* The author had the rabbi eating breakfast at a restaurant with Cindy during the holiday - that would be impossible for a traditional rabbi and actually insulting.

Read this book to enjoy a little (albeit very bloody) murder mystery but don't fool yourself into thinking you will learn anything about Passover or anything about Jewish practice on this holiday. You can't.
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on November 9, 2011
This book is so full of holes it is ridiculous! The body count is up to like 50; they never call in the FBI. There appears to be only 2 homicide detectives in the town (besides 'Nancy Drew' and The Rabbi), the killer has time to stage multiple murder victims on what sounds like a pretty main street without being seen. Most unbelievable is a victim being hurt and getting picked up by an ambulance, getting to the hospital, being x-rayed and released in 10 minutes. There is no such hospital. I have the next 2 books in the series though and will not give up. In fact I just finished the 2nd thinking the author may have learned from her mistakes the first time around. Will save that for the next review!
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on October 8, 2015
Cindy is a Christian church secretary at the First Shepherd Church, she really hates Mondays and this particular Monday goes from bad to worse when she trips over a dead body inside the church sanctuary as she turns on the lights while opening up the church, following her screams she is grabbed by a man who turns out to be Jeremiah the Rabbi from the Jewish Synagogue next door, what follows is a murder mystery that includes many more bodies and an investigation in which Detective Mark Walters just cant seem to keep Cindy and Jeremiah away from, The Lord Is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguie is a well written novel that my Mom suggested I read, it includes a lot of well developed characters and an interesting plot that I found fascinating, halfway through I thought I had the ending figured out but I have to say Mrs. Viguie twisted the plot just enough to really threw me off track, I really enjoyed this one and suggest The Lord Is My Shepherd to anyone who enjoys Christian Fiction and even more so for those who would never think to read this genre.
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on February 11, 2012
I usually reserve my 5-star ratings for exceptional books. Not to say this wasn't a good book ... I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it isn't going to be a book that is talked about for years to come. That said, I found this story to be such a joy to read. I have always been drawn to mysteries and suspense, but so often they contain so much gore, that some of the enjoyment gets lost in the mix.
This particular series has more than enough mystery and suspense to keep the reader interested, but the author does so with a light enough hand that the story is fun too. I loved that.

The two protagonists, Cindy, a church secretary, and Rabbi Jeremiah from the synagogue next door, find themselves thrown together when Cindy discovers a body in the sanctuary of her church one morning. They develop a friendship as events unfold through the week before Easter that propel them toward the surprising conclusion. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!
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on January 29, 2012
I enjoyed this book. It is not a compendium of Christian or Jewish practices, and it's not meant to be. I wouldn't even characterize it as "Christian" fiction. And you do have to overlook some liberties taken with some of the Jewish aspects.

Cindy, the heroine, is indeed a Christian, but really that's just a vehicle for the unlikely team-up with the Rabbi next door. She could just as easily been a wholesome dental assistant. Cindy is a fearful sort, but her "safe" existence is shattered by a man's murder in her church.

Jeremiah isn't your average Rabbi; he's hiding a past that he'd rather didn't catch up with him. He is reluctantly pulled into the murder mystery.

The murders are rather grisly; Jeanette Oake it ain't. But I enjoyed the story.
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on July 8, 2011
In this first book of the Psalm 23 series, we get introduced to a team of interesting and quirky characters. Church secretary Cindy stumbles over a body, and she forms an unlikely partnership with Rabbi Jeremiah to catch a serial killer. Both of these main characters are likable and the humorous, witty banter between them makes for an enjoyable read.

I wouldn't classify this as "Christian fiction" because the body count is quite high and the murder scenes are disturbing (and involve children). The characters in the book also don't appear to be very Biblically literate. If you are looking for a more faith-centered mystery with a little humor and romance, I would recommend Mindy Starns Clark's Smart Chick series or Ramona Richards' House of Secrets.

Good character development and good suspense means I will continue to read on in the series. The 3 star rating, though, is for the rushed feel the end of the book had and for the ridiculous amount of deaths.
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on July 3, 2010
Cindy Preston is the church secretary, and she hates Monday. After a long weekend away from the office, she never knows exactly what she'll find, and she doesn't like disarray. So, she unlocks the church doors and promptly falls over a body. Someone has been stabbed to death in the locked church.

Jeremiah Silverman is the Rabbi at the Jewish temple next door to Cindy's church, and when he hears Cindy screaming he comes running. Jeremiah calls 9-1-1, and helps Cindy answer questions, then takes her safely home. Or maybe. Someone is walking around inside Cindy's apartment.

As Easter Sunday draws near, a man named Jesus is found dead on a donkey, and clues are found that more deaths should be expected. Fighting against time and a serial killer, Cindy and Jeremiah try to expose the truth. Who is behind this, and why?

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD is the first book in The Psalms 23 Mysteries series I've read by Ms. Viguie'. I do have the second book in the series over in my to-be-read pile.

I don't know what the final version of the book is like (I have an advanced reader copy of this title) but I found the writing of this rather weak, contrived, and telling. It was not very strong engaging writing that draws the reader into the story.

However, I didn't figure out who was the murderer. The person I thought might be it didn't prove to be, so the author is definitely good at red herrings. If you like a mystery, then maybe THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD would be a good book to check out. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book.
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