The Lord Is My Shepherd: The Psalm 23 Mysteries #1by Debbie Viguié
Cindy’s church is getting ready to celebrate Easter, and Jeremiah’s Temple is preparing for Passover when Cindy literally stumbles over the body of an unknown man lying dead in the sanctuary. The church was locked, and a bloody cross necklace on the floor seems to be the only clue. The killer is likely a member of the congregation, but there are hints
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Cindy’s church is getting ready to celebrate Easter, and Jeremiah’s Temple is preparing for Passover when Cindy literally stumbles over the body of an unknown man lying dead in the sanctuary. The church was locked, and a bloody cross necklace on the floor seems to be the only clue. The killer is likely a member of the congregation, but there are hints that similar deaths have happened in the past. Are Cindy and Jeremiah dealing with a serial killer? They have to unravel the clues before Easter Sunday arrives and more people die.
Cindy and Jeremiah come from two different worlds, even though they work right next door to each other. Cindy is a strong Christian who lives a normal but somewhat dull life, working as a church secretary. Jeremiah is a Reformed rabbi with a mysterious past full of danger and excitement. But one eventful Easter/Passover week, the two find themselves working together to solve a murder and stop a serial killer from striking again. Solving the mystery should put an end to their alliance, but the church secretary and the rabbi quickly find themselves enmeshed in another mystery. Soon the two form a friendly alliance and friendship, exploring personal history and faith and growing closer with each passing adventure. Despite their differences Cindy and Jeremiah find a lot of common ground.
Read an Excerpt
The Lord Is My Shepherd
Book One The Psalm 23 Mysteries
By Debbie Viguié
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2010 Debbie Viguié
All rights reserved.
More than anything, Cindy Preston hated Mondays. As a kid Mondays meant that it was time to stop playing and go back to school. They were the day that her dad always left home on business trips, which he did a lot. On Mondays she had to take drama classes because her brother did, and anything he did she had to do too. She never got to act. Kyle always overshadowed her. Instead, she helped construct the stages he strutted around on.
As an adult, Mondays were even worse. Returning to any job wasn't pleasant after a weekend of freedom. But you could double that since she worked at a church, which meant Mondays were hell.
Of course, "hell" wasn't a word Cindy would use at church, unless she was talking literally about the place and its demonic denizens. She'd had a lifetime of paranoia pounded into her by her mother. "You don't curse at church. You don't fall asleep during the sermon. You don't look at boys. You don't wear slacks."
Cindy knew exactly what couldn't be done at church, but she always felt a little unsure about what you could do. The first time a friend invited her to a Pentecostal service Cindy had spent the entire time telling people to put their hands down, because she was just sure you couldn't do that in church.
Cindy smiled grimly as she pulled into the parking lot of First Shepherd. She might not know what she could do at church, but she did know that in a pinch she could work there. Even if that meant she had to wear skirts and dresses every day. Slacks still didn't feel right in a sanctuary. She turned off the engine and leaned her head back for a minute, closing her eyes.
"God help me."
Cindy had never had a job that was so rewarding or half as exasperating. At any ordinary job you could leave on Friday, lock the door behind you, and come back on Monday morning and expect to find things where you left them. Not so much when you worked at a church.
Last Monday had been one of the worst days yet. They were preparing for Easter week, one of the busiest times of the year with extra services, programs, and special events. As if that hadn't been enough, the church's furnace had quit working, someone had broken a key off in the nursery room door lock, one of the women's bathrooms had flooded, and her binder of master calendars and room assignments had somehow found its way from her desk to the pulpit.
Cindy contemplated sitting in her car until everyone else showed up for work. An extra half hour of quiet sounded good, but she knew she couldn't sit there. The one advantage of arriving first was the chance to assess the damage before anyone else, especially Pastor Roy, showed up and freaked out.
Maybe if everything is quiet I can play a quick game of solitaire.
She got out of her car and walked toward the main gate that shut off the parking lot from the church buildings. With her left hand she slid a deck of cards out of her purse and shuffled them with one hand. She'd learned the trick in junior high, and it always calmed her down.
Please, God, let the soda machine not be empty.
Given that the high school youth group had a big outreach the night before, only God Himself could have left a can in the machine for her.
When she inserted her key in the gate's lock and twisted, it didn't click. Cindy stood for a moment, puzzled, before she pushed open the unlocked door.
"Somebody's in trouble," she muttered. Staff rarely forgot to lock the gate at night.
"Hello, anyone here?" she called as she stepped into the courtyard. No reply. She hesitated for a moment. The silence was always disturbing early in the morning, especially after the noise and clamor of Sunday services. She glanced around uneasily but didn't see anyone.
Cindy headed straight across the open breezeway toward the sanctuary, sticking to her normal routine. She shuffled the cards with her left hand faster and faster and prayed that the women's room wasn't flooded again. Without breaking stride, she scooped up a small piece of paper from the ground near the door and stuffed it in her coat pocket, intending to throw it away in the office.
She unlocked the sanctuary door, stepped inside, and moved along the wall toward the bank of light switches, which some "art-over-practicality" architect had discretely positioned beneath a portrait of Jesus twenty feet from the door. In the darkness her foot caught on something soft and out of place, and she crashed to the floor, smacking her elbows and one knee. Her cards flew from her hand, and she could hear them flutter down around her.
Now what? What had the youth group kids done to the sanctuary this time? Cindy scrambled to her feet only to feel her twisted knee give out from under her, and she fell against the wall. Her shaking hand reached out and caught the light switch. With a loud clunk, the overhead lights slowly came on, and she turned around to see what she had tripped over.
A man, wearing a long black coat, lay sprawled on the ground. Half a dozen of her cards had landed on him, but he didn't move. Cindy jumped backward, hand pressed to her chest.
"Oh! Sir, are you all right?"
As she approached him carefully, he still didn't move. Cindy bent down and shook his leg, like she had learned once in a first-aid class. Did he have a heart attack?
When he didn't move she took hold of his shoulder and rolled him onto his back. She gasped when her eyes met his vacant stare. One look at those eyes and she knew he was dead. She had seen that look before, eyes just like that, open and frozen. Then she saw the knife sticking out of his chest.
Cindy screamed and jumped backward, slamming into a pew. Her injured knee buckled, and she collapsed to the floor, still screaming.
The empty church sanctuary caught the sounds of her screams and bounced them around the high-ceiling room. Her own voice was all she could hear. The body was the only thing she could see. The coppery smell of blood nearly overwhelmed her.
Something flashed in the open doorway six feet away. A dark figure seemed to fly across the threshold, landed next to her, and rolled to a stop on one knee. His eyes blazed like black flame, and his black hair framed the murderous face of a devil.
Cindy screamed louder and tried to push away from her position on the floor, but her hand slipped on the glossy surface of a playing card and she fell onto the man-devil's shoulder. He wrapped one arm around her waist, and with the other he pulled her head down to his chest. She struggled against him, but he held her so tightly she couldn't free herself.
I don't want to die! She pummeled him with her free fist.
Through the haze of terror that enveloped her, she heard him speak. "I'm Jeremiah, the rabbi from next door. You're safe."
Safe. Safe. The word rattled around in her brain until she finally remembered its meaning. No one is ever safe. She stopped screaming, but her body shook with gulping sobs. With her head pressed to his chest she could no longer see the body on the floor. She forced herself to take deep breaths.
The rabbi shifted slightly and let go of the back of her head. She heard him dialing three digits on a cell phone: 9-1-1.
"Yes, this is Jeremiah Silverman. I'm at the Presbyterian church on the corner of Main and Lincoln in Pine Springs. I'm in the sanctuary with a lady who just found a dead body here. Send the police. Yes. Yes. That's correct. Thank you."
"The police are on their way," he said still hanging on to his cell. His voice was calm and soothing.
"Are you okay? You're not hurt at all?" he asked.
"My arm hurts and my knees from when I tripped," Cindy said. She forced out each word through chattering teeth.
"I think you're okay. You're just in shock."
Of course she was in shock. She remembered how it felt. It was one of the only things she remembered about that day when she was fifteen and saw her first dead body.
"Let me help you up," Jeremiah said.
Some morbid part of her wanted to look at the body again, to reassure herself that it was no one she knew. The rest of her was quite sure she'd never forget what she had seen.
I'm going to be sick. She stumbled a few feet away from the rabbi.
"Hold on. Where are you going?"
"I need to get out of here," she said.
"I don't think that's a good idea. Wait until the police get here. In the meantime, this will keep you a little warmer." Jeremiah slipped his coat around her shoulders. "Put your arms into the sleeves."
"He's dead, right?" She knew the man was dead. Eyes didn't lie, and the dead man's eyes told her everything. Still, she needed to hear it, needed to know that she was right. Needed for someone else to acknowledge it.
"Yes, he's dead." Jeremiah's voice was calm and authoritative.
Cindy nodded. He put his arms around her, and she gladly leaned into him again. They slid to the floor against the back pew to wait for help.CHAPTER 2
Jeremiah considered questioning the woman about what had happened, but realized he'd hear the story soon enough once the police showed up. He leaned back against the pew and held her. She had calmed down considerably, but he gently stroked her hair to soothe her.
He glanced over at the body: a man in his late forties, a black-handled Bowie knife sticking out of his chest, and playing cards fanned out around him. Whoever had stabbed the victim had used a lot of force to drive the weapon in that far. The blood that had spilled out onto his white shirt was dark and dried. He'd probably been dead for several hours before the girl found him.
Girl. He glanced down at her and smiled. She was old enough to be someone's mother. He guessed her age as close to thirty. Her long, light brown hair fanned out over his shoulder and chest. Her eyes were squeezed shut, but he remembered them as vivid green and wide with terror. He must have made quite a sight barreling through the door the way he did.
He had been the rabbi at the synagogue next door for almost two years and had seen her on many occasions in the parking lot, but he didn't know her name.
Jeremiah smiled grimly when the police arrived in less than five minutes. If his emergency call had been about a stolen car or a purse snatcher, they would have waited hours for the police, but mention "dead body" and watch them come running with sirens blasting.
Officers sealed off the area just in time. Outside the sanctuary Jeremiah could see several people he took to be other staff members showing up at the door for work. They had certainly gotten a lot more than they bargained for.
"Sir, could you and the lady step over here?" a detective asked, waving them toward a pew a little way from the body.
"We can move now," Jeremiah told the woman. "Are you ready?"
Cindy nodded, and he stood. She struggled for a moment, and he could see the bruises that had already formed on her knees and her right arm. He stooped down, put his hands under her arms, and pulled her into a standing position. She gave him a fleeting smile before her eyes fixed on the body. He grabbed her chin and gently pulled her head around to face him.
"Come over here with me," he said. He kept an arm around her and half-led, half-carried her over to the detective. Jeremiah lowered her into a pew and then sat beside her.
The detective took a seat in front of them and turned around. He passed a hand through his sandy blonde hair, and his sharp eyes looked her over before turning on Jeremiah.
"My name is Mark Walters," he said, addressing Jeremiah.
"Jeremiah Silverman. I'm the rabbi from the synagogue next door."
The detective nodded toward the woman. "I take it she found him?"
"Were you with her at the time?"
"No, I was getting out of my car when I heard her screaming. I ran over to see if I could help and found her on the floor next to him."
"A real Good Samaritan," the detective commented, not unkindly.
"Not quite. I'm Jewish."
The detective just blinked.
"Sorry, bad joke," Jeremiah said, mentally cursing. The last thing he needed was to anger the police. Neither he nor the synagogue needed that kind of attention, especially not with Passover about to start.
Mark stared hard at him for a moment and then nodded. "My wife makes jokes when she's scared or upset. I guess she's not the only one. Me, I find it hard to be funny when there's a dead man on the floor of a church and a killer on the loose."
"I'm sorry," Jeremiah said. "This is just a stressful way to start your day, you know?"
"That I do know," Mark agreed.
He turned his attention back to the woman who sat quietly, staring off into the distance. "I need to ask her a few questions."
Jeremiah put his arm around her shoulder, and she turned to look at him. "The detective has a couple of questions for you."
She seemed to wake up at that and blinked slowly, as though only now seeing him. She looked at the detective and cleared her throat. "Yes, of course," she said, her voice hoarse.
"I'll make this as quick as I can," the detective said. His tone was reassuring.
Cindy. It suits her, Jeremiah thought.
"Okay, Miss Preston, do you work here?"
She nodded. "I'm the secretary."
"The man on the floor, do you know who he is?"
"No," she said.
"Have you ever seen him before?"
"Okay, that's fine. You're doing fine," Mark assured her. "Can you tell me what happened this morning?"
"I fell over him." Tears streaked down her cheeks.
"You fell over him?" Mark asked.
"Okay, how about before you fell on him. What were you doing?"
"I unlocked the sanctuary."
"Is that part of your job?"
"Yes. I'm almost always here before everyone else, and I unlock the sanctuary and then the office and then any other rooms that are going to be used in the morning."
"So the sanctuary was locked this morning when you got here?"
She nodded and wiped at her eyes. "Yes. The main gate wasn't, though."
"You mean the gate out by the parking lot?" the detective asked.
Jeremiah and Mark exchanged a quick glance. Mark turned back to Cindy. "Is the main gate usually locked?"
"Yes. I mean, every once in a while the last person to leave forgets, but not often."
"So, the main gate was unlocked but the sanctuary was locked?"
"Okay. You unlocked the door and then what happened?"
"I tripped over him before I could reach the light switch," she said. "My cards went flying out of my hand."
"So, the playing cards are yours?" Mark asked.
"Yes. It's my lucky deck."
"Not so lucky today." Mark sounded grim. "So you fell, and your cards went flying. What next?"
"I got up and turned on the lights. I turned to see what I had tripped over, and there he was, lying face down."
"Face down?" Jeremiah asked before he could stop himself.
Mark glared a warning but didn't say anything.
"Yes. I thought maybe he'd fallen or had a heart attack or something. I asked if he was okay, and when he didn't answer, I grabbed his shoulder like they showed us in the firstaid class and rolled him onto his back. That's when I saw the ... the ... knife." She took a deep breath and bit her bottom lip.
"That's okay, ma'am. What happened after that?"
"I screamed, I think, and he came." Cindy turned to look at Jeremiah.
"I see," Mark said.
"I found her here on the floor beside him, and I called 9-1-1."
"Have you seen the victim before?"
Jeremiah shook his head. "No."
Jeremiah spied another officer checking out the crime scene. He watched the man walk the perimeter of the sanctuary; his eyes roamed over everything. In the background Jeremiah could hear Mark's droning voice, as he asked Cindy the same questions in three different ways. They trained police to do that. By asking the same questions, but varying the language and prompting for more and more detailed responses, they could often get more information out of witnesses than a simple narrative. They also could tell if a person was lying. It was hard not to slip up when being questioned like that. The second detective had made it almost all the way around the sanctuary when he stopped and bent down. The officer whistled low, and their detective turned to look.
"Miss, I'll be right back," Mark said and hurried to join his partner.
The two bent over to examine something on the floor. Because Jeremiah's line of sight was blocked, he couldn't see what they were looking at. When they stood up, though, he could read their lips.
The cards belong to the woman. She tripped over the body, and they went flying. Still, make sure you tag them all.
Done. You get anything solid from her?
Not yet. She seems clean, but she could just be a good actor.
Her car was still warm when officers arrived, and this guy's been dead for several hours.
She could have killed him last night and come back today.
I don't think so. The pastor says that she was at the hospital most of the night with one of the elderly members of the congregation who was dying.
We got a confirmation on that?
I'll call the hospital. I don't think we have anything to worry about with her. How about the guy?
Works next door. Heard her screaming and came to help.
Mark walked back toward them. The detective crouched down and touched Cindy's shoulder. In his hand he held a small plastic bag. Inside was a silver cross and chain encrusted with dried blood. Etched into the center of the cross was a lamb.
Excerpted from The Lord Is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguié. Copyright © 2010 Debbie Viguié. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Debbie Viguié is the New York Times bestselling author of more than two dozen novels. Debbie writes dark fantasy, mysteries, and thrillers including The Psalm 23 Mysteries and the Kiss trilogy. When Debbie isn’t busy writing she enjoys spending time with her husband, Scott, visiting theme parks. They live near Orlando, Florida with their cat, Schrödinger.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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It reminded me of the Rabbi novels by Harry Kemelman. I was pleasantly surprised by it. Considering it's geared for a Christian audience, it was a little surprised by how dark the nature of the crimes were. But, if you've actually read your Bible, you'll know that there is some pretty violent stuff portrayed, it's just not usually as graphic. I'm looking forward to reading the next couple of installments in this series. The eBook was formatted well with no obvious errors.
I picked "The Lord Is My Shepherd" because I was looking for a cozy mystery. I love that cozy mysteries give you a mystery without the sex and foul language. Cozies also involve more characters that I can relate to. Let's face it, for the most part, the people we know aren't fashion models, movie stars or explorers. Most of us through six degrees of separation may know someone in a high end career, but most of us still live our day-to-day lives far from a spotlight. In a cozy anyone can become a central character to an adventure be that person a grandma, waitress, real estate agent or even a church secretary. Now this cozy was a little more bloody and creepy than the usual cozy, but it still had most of the key ingredients that I enjoy. Cindy is a mild-mannered and perhaps slightly bored church secretary who literally stumbles on a corpse in the church sanctuary of all places. The story immediately moves forward from there and introduces Rabbi Jeremiah Silverman and man other characters. Together they have quite a wild ride and some rough patches and truly I had no idea who the actual killer was. Let's just say that was a thrill in itself as I almost always figure things out. "The Lord Is My Shepherd" delighted me so much that I immediately began to read the next book in the series "I Shall Not Want." The icing on top of the cake is that both books in the series, well actually all three of the books in the series were for free at various times.
This is another amatuer sleuth mystery. A church secretary and a Rabbi from the temple next door meet at a murder scene. The mystery is complex and hard to guess who done it. The romance is only hinted at and friendship is the thing. I found the second book in the series somewhere and read both in sequence and immediately. That's something I don't usually do. The characters had a hold on me! Overall, it's a nice read. You'll enjoy it if you like the genre.
I was hooked on this story from the first sentence. It was tight, quick writing. The plot was very good and you were kept on your toes the entire time. I am definitely ready to buy more of this author's books. And I truly love this series even with just one book read. This is a definite read for anyone who loves mysteries. It is a definite read for anyone who loves a good writer. You do not get bored with this story.
I was suprised to find a religious mystery. Being it was free was even better. I was totally involved...the characters were believable nd it had several twists and turns. Good book, I will pirchase the next in her series.
Wasn't sure what to expect. Found a pleant not too gory mystery. Pleasantly surprised. Like the fact the story was not too long.
This is a great series for christian mystery lovers. It keeps you on you toes wanting to know what happens next.
I chose this book for our church book club & after reading the first 2 chapters I immediately called our group to change books. The humor is sacrilegious and demeaning to Jesus' death & resurrection. Even leaving that aside, the writing was the style of what you would find in "young adult" (middle school age) books. I would not recommend this to anyone and I plan on deleting it from my Nook.
Great Read. Fun and entertaining. Did not figure it out until author wanted me to.
Love this series!
this book is very interesting. I liked it a lot. JAL
I enjoyed this book. It kept me up way past midnight. A good read