The Good Thief by Barry Connolly

“The Good Thief”     by Barry Connolly

Jerusalem, 33 A.D. It is the tumultuous final weeks before Passover. Excited pilgrims pour into the Holy City. Many hail a young rabbi preaching in the countryside as the promised Messiah.

Good Thief

In the wilderness south of Jerusalem, two wealthy and influential brothers have been robbed and killed. Their murders spark an aggressive search by Roman authorities to find and punish those responsible. Returning home to announce his engagement, a young Jewish man discovers his brother and sister dead, innocent victims of the Roman officer leading the investigation. The surviving brother’s obsession with revenge will take him from the back alleys of Jerusalem, to a thieves’ den in the mountains of Judea, to a fateful encounter with the man he has sworn to kill. The journey will end with his crucifixion alongside Christ on Good Friday.

Every Christian has heard of the Good Thief. This is his story.


Barry Connolly’s “The Good Thief” is everything first-rate Biblical fiction should be: it’s rich in period detail, sharp and telling in its character delineation, strong but not bossy in its faith, and immediately engaging, as the Gospels themselves always are.

He takes as the backdrop of his novel the story of the two criminals who were crucified with Christ – one taunted Christ, the other reproved his fellow and asked Jesus to remember him in the afterlife. Connolly imagines the life-story of both those criminals: Gestas, a hardened bandit, and his cousin Dismas, a headstrong but good-hearted young man who makes just about every dumb decision such men are prone to make in their lives (except for his love of the beautiful and spirited Rebekah, one of the strongest characters in the book). Chapters alternate between Connolly’s telling of familiar scenes of Jesus’ life and Dismas’ ongoing descent into crime and plots of revenge against the Roman official responsible for the deaths of his brother and sister – and of course those two stories not only intertwine but eventually meet head-on, when Dismas, strung up to a cross at Golgotha, becomes the last person on Earth to be saved by Jesus before his death and resurrection.


In imagining such a vivid and touching back-story for such a minor New Testament figure, Connolly has tapped narrative gold and made it shine. I hope he sifts through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and finds many more stories to tell. Highly recommended.

— Steve Donoghue, Editor, Historical Novel Review Online.

About the author:

Barry Connolly worked as a writer, editor and news bureau/media relations manager for the IBM Corporation before starting his own marketing communications business. A succession of bible study classes inspired him to write his first Christian historical novel, “The Good Thief.” His second novel, “On the Road to Damascus,” continues the story. He and his wife, Muriel, reside in Bethel, Connecticut. You can visit their website at

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