Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reluctant Burglar

(To Catch a Thief Series #1)
by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Published by Multnomah Publishers (2006)
352 pages

Desiree (Desi) Jacobs breaks into museums and steals art for a living. An honest living. Could there be a better way for a security firm to test the security of museums?

Then her father, the man who began the security company, is murdered leaving behind a cache of stolen art. Could it be that the man she looked up to all of her life, a man of faith, honesty and integrity, is actually a thief?

Then Desi becomes the prime suspect of FBI Special Agent Tony Lucano who has never trusted her alibi that she is hired to “steal.” To complicate matters, Desi and Tony find themselves fighting a romantic attraction. Will they learn to trust each other and work together to find her father’s murderer and the actual thieves and prove her father’s innocence? Or will they discover that Desi’s father was guilty after all?

Jill Elizabeth Nelson, a Minnesota native, has deftly woven together a novel full of suspense and intrigue, of romance and conflict, sprinkling in a touch of humor. She catches the reader’s attention from the very first sentence and doesn’t let go until the end.

Reluctant Burglar is the first in a series of three To Catch a Thief novels. Reluctant Runaway and Reluctant Smuggler continue to follow Desi and Tony as they struggle in their dangerous careers, solving crimes and mysteries, wondering if their relationship can endure the constant danger and conflicts.

Interview with Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson very graciously gave me a few minutes of her time to ask a few questions at a recent book signing. I’ve included part of that interview below:

Question: Your stories have a unique premise: an art and antiquity security firm owner who “steals” art. Where did you come up with the idea?

Answer: The catalyst for the whole series was a literal sleeping dream. I woke up in the wee hours one night all tense from a dream where a woman in black sneaked into an estate. She took a painting off the wall and replaced it with an identical-looking painting. Straight up theft, right? Wrongo! I was aware as I watched this scene unfold that the woman was stealing the forgery and returning the original. What a bizarre thing for a thief to do! I was also aware that if she didn’t get away with her act of reverse larceny that disaster would follow for many innocents, not just her.

After I woke up, my waking mind played with this odd scenario. I had to decide what sort of career the woman could have that would give her cat burglar skills without making her a thief. Museum security expert fit the bill. I also asked myself what dire set of circumstances would force her to take such outrageous action. The answer to that question became the plot for the first book, Reluctant Burglar.

The sequels, Reluctant Runaway and Reluctant Smuggler, were birthed in my quirky imagination as natural progressions when you throw a strong-willed, impetuous museum security expert into drastic situations with a skilled and intense FBI agent.

Question: What type of research is involved in crafting your novels?

Answer: As far as researching the technical details for the series, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with lots of interesting people, including an FBI agent, a homicide detective, and a former Naval intelligence operative. I also have bookshelves groaning with research material on art, the FBI, museum security, and locations that my books are set. The Internet is also a treasure trove of information, but I always double check my information to verify by two or more sources. The only art form I seem to be gifted at is word craft, but I thoroughly enjoy discovering more information about art and art theft. Each book in the series features an aspect of the art world and the kinds of crimes that go with it. In fact, I have a whole presentation that I do for church and civic groups called Art Snatcher and Thief Catchers that’s chock full of research details I couldn’t fit into my books.


  1. Keeping in line with Reluctant Burglar and Reluctant Runaway, the first two books in Jill Elizabeth Nelson's To Catch A Thief series, Reluctant Smuggler is action-packed! There is mystery, romance, suspense, history ... all with the underlying message that God is in control and He always wins!!

  2. Hi Ceska,

    Reluctant Smuggler was the perfect way to end Jill's unique series. I've never read another book with that same concept as the series', which made her novels all the more fun.

    Thanks for stopping by, Ceska!