The Good Thief
“But you’re talking about killing a man, Dismas!” Barry Connolly’s first novel focuses on the futility of revenge. After years of hard work, Dismas and his brother, Aram can now realize a profit from their vineyard. Dismas hastens to claim Rebekah, his love. While he is gone, a Roman tribune, Marcus Palantina, comes to the vineyard seeking news about their cousin Gestas, a thief and murderer. Palantina accidently kills Dismas’ sister and then fatally stabs Aram when he protests. Returning with Rebekah, Dismas learns what happened from his dying brother. Dismas vows to kill Palantina.
In his search for Palantina, Dismas finds Gestas, who avenged his father’s suicide by killing those who tricked him–and then kept on killing and became a notorious robber. Gestas soon involves Dismas in murder and robbery. Dismas escapes, only to find and kill Palantina at Rebekah’s brother’s tannery, but his murder only produces more guilt. When Rebekah’s brother is accused of murder, Dismas gives himself up. As he dies on the cross, Dismas rebukes Gestas, who also has been captured, for insulting Jesus. Jesus tells Dismas, “good thief,” he will be with him in paradise. Dismas dies in peace.
The Good Thief is well written and has a creditable plot. Too many wholesale Biblical passages weaken the ending and some anachronistic terms prove distracting, but all in all, The Good Thief is a good read.