The Wicked Bible

After a winter when she solved the cold case of a high school friend found dead in The Barn, Deborah Strong needs a distraction. She joins a conference entitled “Libraries: Where Have We Been, Where Are We Going?” that will be useful for her work as a librarian in the small town of Shelby. The setting at a picturesque college in New Hampshire should also be healing.


Deborah’s project for the week plunges her into a mystery that would delight most researchers. What are the connections between a Bible dubbed “The Wicked Bible,” a woman called “The Wickedest Woman in New York,” a book written by Abigail Brewster, and a letter penned to this nineteenth-century author? As she slowly unravels the connections, Deborah confronts an event from her own past and anticipates a future that could be as brilliant as New Hampshire’s September foliage.

The second in the Deborah Strong series cleverly connects to the research Deborah’s friend Susan Warner discovered about Abigail Brewster in Dean’s Death of the Keynote Speaker.

Based on 23 Reviews
Jane Starcher
August 28, 2022

5.0 out of 5 stars A real page turner!

This is book 2 of the series. I had not read the 1st or 3rd but after reading this from beginning to end, without stopping, I immediately ordered the other two. I highly recommend this book. I received an ARC for free but am voluntarily leaving this review.

April 19, 2022

5.0 out of 5 stars I honestly could not put this book down,

When Shelby County Librarian, Deborah Strong attends a conference, she is confronted by a mystery that spans hundreds of years, when a bible and a few other artifacts are stolen from the archives. Can she figure out what happened before the conference ends, allowing someone to create the perfect crime? When Deborah Strong finds a mysterious letter written to Abigail Brewster from a mysterious Clara, she has to figure out the connections between the two woman. Fortunately, Deborah knows a woman, Susan Warner, who is incredibly familiar with Abigail Brewster’s life, having run the Abigail Brewster Society Conference in Death of a Keynote Speaker, by the same author. (one of my favorite literary devices) The bones for an incredible book are here and I honestly could not put this book down, because I was so drawn into the mystery. The author’s ability to connect the dots and make research interesting is first rate. The subject matter is fascinating and I am curious to see how the main character starts building the connections to the world around her that you can see are keeping her mired and stuck in the past. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Louise Foerster
February 25, 2022

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, twisty story!

I plummeted into Sharon Dean’s THE WICKED BIBLE and did not come up for air until the final satisfying lines. Dean’s story stars intrepid small-town librarian Deborah Strong drawn to the connections between a book called THE WICKED BIBLE, a woman renowned to have been the wickedest woman, and a letter penned decades earlier — as she teases out the tangles and figures out the story, she resolves long-buried secrets and creates a new path forward for herself. A genuinely gripping story with a fascinating woman at the center with remarkable prose and rich sensory details, this story is a genuine pleasure to read. I received an advance review copy of this book for free and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

J. S. Klos
January 17, 2022

5.0 out of 5 stars Don’t mess with the librarian

The Wicked Bible by Sharon Dean is a mystery without a murder, which is rather unusual in many books, and that’s one reason why I enjoyed it. Who knew that librarians are so interesting. I actually learned a bit about doing research, which is another reason why the book is different. But it’s not in the least dry or boring. Deborah is a great character who is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. This was an enjoyable read. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

January 13, 2022

5.0 out of 5 stars You won't want to stop!

This was a quick read because I didn’t want to stop! The characters are revealed in a way that keeps you guessing. The haunting back story of Deborah adds another layer to the mystery at hand. I felt I was watching the story unfold around me with a very clear picture of the setting and characters. Also included an interesting bit of history on the first Wicked Bible and social issues of the nineteenth century.

Kathleen C.
December 24, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars The Wicked Bible Earns 5/5 Misprints & Motives…Fascinating & Clever!

Deborah Strong, the head librarian at the Shelby Library, decided to attend a conference,“Libraries: Where Have We Been, Where are We Going?,” for some unique professional insights. Along with break-out groups for post-lecture discussions, participants are assigned a research project about one of the college’s artifacts. There are so many fascinating items to choose from, and Deborah’s choice, a previously unknown letter from Clara James to nineteenth century author Abigail Brewster, strikes a chord since her friend Susan Warner wrote a book using many of Brewster’s letter. The conference gets complicated when police show up. A unique King James Bible, dubbed The Wicked Bible, has been stolen, and the participants, with their unfettered access to the archives, are being searched. The robbery and Deborah’s project have totally engaged her, but it ramps up when her Clara James letter also goes missing, and a mugging reveals a third artifact stolen. Are the stolen items connected? The conference leader has taken a personal interest in Deborah, but his behavior is somewhat of an enigma, and the stranger, a scarred man with a cane, seems to be following Deborah and trying to engage her, leaving her concerned. What interest do the two men hold with Deborah? Sharon L. Dean has woven historical references and her fictional heroine into a compelling drama, and although sans any murder, the mystery is very engaging, and Deborah’s research and investigation into the thefts has put her in danger. Couldn’t put it down. The story of fictional author Abigail Brewster was first introduced in the second book of Dean’s Susan Warner Mysteries, “Death of a Keynote Speaker,” and has contemporary significance when linked to Madame Restell, dubbed “The Wickedest Woman in New York” due to her work with women who found themselves pregnant. Also The Wicked Bible‘s humorous misprint seemingly validates adultery bringing out the scholars and fanatics and intriguing motives. The research into Deborah’s artifact, topics of discussion important to libraries, and debate on the role of Women’s Studies in a college setting added to my interest. Dean’s writing style is entertaining soliciting several reactions to the descriptions and clever banter from a soft giggle to “oh, no!” alarm, and having Dean’s other heroine Susan Warner in a cameo for her expertise on Abigail Brewster is a marvelous crossover element. But her resistance to be forthcoming and a demand for Deborah to “leave it” adds mystery. A favorite element in any of the books I read is the inclusion of real-life or historical facts, characters, and events. I was intrigued to learn about the omission of “not” in one of the Ten Commandments in a version of King James Bible dubbed Wicked Bible (1631) along with the Slave Bible, an 1807 censored version of the Bible printed to foster a pro-slavery Christianity in the West Indies, and with women’s reproductive rights a hot-button topic, I googled more about Madame Restell, aka Ann Trow Lohman (1812-1878). It’s more than a mystery…it’s an instrument to learn more! Disclosure: I received an ARC from the author. My review is voluntary with honest insights and comments.

Jennifer M. Ashton
December 13, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars Amateur Sleuth Deborah Strong Encounters Another Mystery At a College Conference

A week-long conference about libraries at New Hampshire’s state university does not list the mysterious theft of a valuable Bible as one of the seminars. Small-city librarian Deborah Strong begins the week looking for a promising distraction from the cold case she recently solved. Fans of author Sharon L. Dean will thoroughly enjoy this third book in the Deborah Strong Mysteries. The characters, setting and unique story will hold the interest of all readers. “The Wicked Bible” also works as a standalone book for readers new to the series.

M. Casey
December 3, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars Wicked good read!

The author is very sure footed with skillfilly presented evil characters…ones that a reader will enjoy hating with some glee.

Saralyn Richard
November 28, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars A complex heroine

Deborah Strong, a librarian who attends a conference and chooses to research a letter found inside a rare copy of a misprinted Bible, known as The Wicked Bible, becomes embroiled in the mystery when both of these (and another relevant source book) are stolen. Deborah is a complicated character, worthy of her last name. She struggles to seek the truth, even as she faces her own fears and sorrows, and to make sense of the human foibles that test our beliefs and emotions every day. The author weaves a story with just the right amount of history, local color, characterization, and philosophical reflection to make the book delightful and memorable.

November 28, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!

A story about libraries and historical fiction is my favorite subjects in books. Throw in a little romance and a dash of mystery makes a great story. The author gives enough twists and mystery to keep the reader invested in the story. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Clive Rosengren
November 22, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars Another satisfying Deborah Strong story

Following an eye-catching, arresting title, Sharon Dean’s The Wicked Bible concerns Deborah Strong’s participation in a library conference at Murkland College. The plucky Shelby, New Hampshire librarian and amateur sleuth soon finds herself involved in the investigation of the theft of the Bible in question, which leads to a mysterious letter and an apparent abortion clinic dating back to the nineteenth century. Dean effectively uses the trope of the past coming back to inform the present, which, to this reviewer, is reminiscent of Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer stories. Absorbing and eerie, author Dean beautifully captures the essence of small-town life and all the peccadilloes one finds therein. Highly recommended!

November 20, 2021

3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. The Wicked Bible really appealed to me when reading the blurb because I am very much interested in stories involving librarians and libraries, mysteries and books! I loved the historical aspect of the “Wicked Bible” coming into play and thought this would be very interesting. It had its moments. I liked the parts of the plot that involved the letter from Clara James and how it indicated a relationship with Abigail at Madame Restell’s . I also thought Deborah was a strong main character and I enjoyed her thoughts and the way she figured out the puzzle. The parts that I didn’t enjoy and left me with a score of 3 were the unfinished business aspects of the story. There were way too many loose threads and somewhat unnecessary plot points. The crazy blind date professor….nothing is resolved or settled with his story, which is far fetched and tenuous from the beginning and really doesn’t fit well with the rest of the book. The story of Clara and Abigail is never really resolved and is treated almost as it’s own separate plot, bringing in Susan Warner from the Authors other mystery series. The killer/thief is neatly injured in a car accident that occurs when no one is around and isn’t explained. There is a ton of allusion to blacks in the state of New Hampshirite without any real purpose to having mentioned this fact in the story. It was offensive that the inclusion of the black population in New Hampshire was even mentioned in this way. The book was flawed, I won’t read another in the series, but the author is a talented writer and I think with more organization of plot could really have a great mystery.

November 19, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars A "Strong" Woman's Story

The Wicked Bible is a literary mystery that combines a sylvan college setting, a one-of-a-kind Bible, and the possibility of romance to present a puzzle that keeps the reader guessing to the final pages. A widow who more than lives up to her name, Deborah Strong thrives under circumstances a lesser woman might shy away from. What begins as a simple theft turns into a far more complicated crime, and Deborah’s determined effort to expose it makes for a very satisfying story.

Judith Stanford
November 12, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly plotted mystery

Sharon Dean’s latest mystery keeps the mind racing, the pulse accelerating, and the emotions quickening. This tightly plotted novel challenges those of us who love a literary puzzle to think more deeply, yet also carries us along on a terrifying (but highly satisfactorily resolved) dangerous adventure. Throughout, there sounds an elegiac note exactly right for our times, both for the long-lasting nature of familial loss and for the loss, also, of some academic paths of inquiry. We learn much more about Deborah Strong, first introduced in The Barn, and we are left wanting to spend additional time with her. It’s great to know that wish will be granted in the forthcoming third book in the series, Calderwood Cove.

Michael Niemann
November 9, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars Not your ordinary librarian

In her second Deborah Strong mystery, Dean puts her protagonist into a benign setting. A conference for librarians. What could be more sedate and safe? Part of the conference involves completing a project and Deborah Strong chooses one involving the “Wicked Bible,” a 17th century Bible in which the sixth commandment was mistakenly printed as “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Before long the quiet of the conference is interrupted. The precious copy of the “Wicked Bible” has disappeared. Investigating this disappearance plunges Strong into a maelstrom of threats. To save herself requires all of her ingenuity. Fortunately, this librarian has plenty. A rewarding read and a solid follow up to The Barn.

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