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Cici discovers a body in the forest, and the victim’s wounds are identical to the ones that killed her sister a year ago...

Someone murdered her sister. And shot her dog. The killer won't stop until Cici's dead, too. 

With her identical twin sister hauntingp her dreams, Cici and her dogs must dodge arrows, bullets, and even a demon truck. Worse, she must grapple with the knowledge her twin's death was much more sinister than a random act of violence. 

The chase is on. 

As Cici and Detective Sam Chastain edge closer to the truth, the murderer circles closer. This time, the criminal plots to stop Cici. Permanently

260 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 14, 2018

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About the author

J.J. Cagney

9 books36 followers
J. J. Cagney is the mystery/thriller pen name of USA Today bestselling author Alexa Padgett. Her debut mystery, A Pilgrimage of Death, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ 100 Best Books of 2018 and Goodreads Best Mysteries of the 2010s.

Cagney holds a bachelor’s in international marketing and spent part of her twenties as the marketing director for an elite sports management firm. And, yes, she did her requisite stint with a dotcom back in the early 2000s, first as a marketing coordinator and then as a content manager. She’s penned work for a variety of websites and magazines, and she worked as a literary agent for Irene Webb Literary.

She lives in northern New Mexico with her husband, children, about a million fish, and their Great Pyrenees, Ash. Kirkus Reviews called Cagney’s latest mystery, An Artifact of Death, “An exhilarating entry in a thoroughly enjoyable series.”

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 99 reviews
Profile Image for Kirsty ❤️.
921 reviews46 followers
December 26, 2018
This is the first in a series of mysteries involving female reverend Cici Gurule. I really enjoyed it. I liked the female protagonist being a reverend; it added a different flavour to the story but also it didn't overwhelm the book. She's a woman of the cloth but it doesn't define her within this tale. I enjoyed the twist at the end. There are lots of red herrings while you try and work out the whodunnit which I enjoyed. 

I liked the other  characters; Detective Sam with his long hair and tattoos definitely appealed and I'd like to see more of the secondary ones that were in this story. I haven;t yet read book 2 but I have a feeling I will. It moved along fast and the pace didn't drag at app. Overall really enjoyed it and will definitely be picking up the next book. 
Profile Image for Robyn.
420 reviews97 followers
August 14, 2018
Cecilia Gurule, CiCi to most, returns home to Santa Fe upon quitting as the associate reverend from a large, wealthy church outside Boston after her sister, Anna Carmen’s murder over a year ago. She is not the only one to return home though. Sam Chastain left a promising position on a joint task force in Denver only to return home to Santa Fe to join the detective bureau. CiCi and Sam have been friends for decades and he always promised to be there for CiCi. While out hiking the Aspen Vista Trail, CiCi and Sam making a startling discovery. They find the dead body of Donald Johnson, one of the founding members of the church she had taken over this year. Like her sister, Anna Carmen, Donald has been stabbed much the same way. Is Donald’s murder somehow connected to the murder of Anna Carmen? CiCi is determined to find out, but does that put her in the crosshairs of a killer determined to silence CiCi for good?

A Pilgrimage To Death is the first book in the Reverend CiCi Gurule Mystery series and it has all of the elements to the start of a fantastic series. I found myself right in the middle of a criminal network intent on silencing any one who got in their way including the Reverend CiCi when she gets too close to the truth. Although the story is very much a mystery, it has underlying layers of the supernatural with CiCi being able to to talk to her dead twin Anna Carmen. In a way, it did lend an air of believability as twins often say they have a special bond and can communicate with one another which I find absolutely fascinating. So, I am glad that it was touched upon on this story. The mystery is done really well and I honestly never guessed the outcome and I kept going back and forth between the different characters wondering if they were the culprit/murderer. I would like to add that Alexa Padgett really knows how to draw you right in and this new series kind of reminds me of Patrica Cornwall’s Kay Scarpetta series, not so much in story line, but in the rich characterization and friendships that go deeper than ordinary friends.

CiCi is such a strong heroine. She has fears, goals and ambitions just like any other person. She is fiercely loyal to her friends and her parishioners. But, after her sister’s death, I don’t think she was ever the same again. She was not at peace knowing her sister’s killer was never brought to justice. But, through the investigation with Sam, I could see her growth the closer she got to unraveling Anna Carmen’s murder. Sam was an interesting character for me and the dynamic between him and CiCi just felt like it was more than friends, even though they never dated. They just have this super close bond with each other which was interesting to see.

A Pilgrimage To Death is a captivating page turner that reels you in slowly drawing you into the story. The twists really add to the tension and the action is non stop. The mystery is the heart of the story, though and it is done really well. I love when a book can keep me guessing right up to the very end. So far, this is a great start for a new series and I can not wait to read more.
1,362 reviews13 followers
September 26, 2020
Wow! This is one of the best female sleuth novels I have read, ever. This book is about Cici. She is a Reverend, a volunteer with Search and Rescue and tenacious. When she and her friend Detective Sam Chastain find a body with wounds identical to the ones that killed her twin sister a year ago, the story takes off.
This is a magnificent mystery. Twists and turns, surprises and some real shocks all leading to a suspenseful, exciting conclusion. The characters are as real as your friends and family with as much complexity and history as any of them. It is easy to understand why this book is award-winning.
The author, Alexa Padgett, writing as J.J. Cagney, has a wonderful talent for capturing the reader’s interest and then adding emotions. Emotions for both the reader and the characters. I was invested in the story before the end of the first chapter.
As soon as I finished this book, I purchased the prequel and the second book in the series. I have just started the prequel and Alexa’s talent is just as evident. I obviously will be reading the rest of the books available in this series and looking forward to reading future books by Alexa.
I received a free copy of this book. The honest opinions in this review are my own.
Profile Image for Lisa.
779 reviews11 followers
May 14, 2018
This is the first in a new mystery series and it sure doesn’t disappoint. It’s about a reverend, Cici, who is also a woman, which is a different take. Cici has never gotten over the murder of her identical twin. It’s been about a year and there is still no closure. There have been clues and more deaths which have been in the same method as her sister’s. Cici doesn’t give up and soon finds that her snooping is leading to someone trying to kill her. A lifelong friend, Sam, who used to date her sister, is a detective and has been trying to end a drug ring, which also seems to have ties to the sister.

I loved all the characters. There was some world building and then there was so much action, I couldn’t stop reading. There were so many twists and turns and several times I was shocked at who and why and so many things I want to say but I don’t want to spoil it. If you like Murder She Wrote and Agatha Christie, you will love this. I can’t wait for the next book!
Profile Image for Cheryl Whitty.
904 reviews14 followers
August 15, 2018
Reviewed on Behalf of http://bookaddict.live,
It’s been my pleasure to read Alexa Padgett’s A Pilgrimage to Death, which is book one in The Reverend Cici Gurule mysteries. This has set the scene and standard for future adventures. This is a spoiler free as the book isn’t released yet.
Rev Cici has come back to her home town to takeover at the Local church. Cici’s twin sister was killed and the murderer never caught. Cici and the twin’s friend Sam a Detective returned to solve the case. Unfortunately is a year later when a body is found dead with the same knife wound as her sister.
Suddenly after a year things start happening, all being connected to Anna Carmen. I loved Cici and Sam, they had a real partnership together. Cici was real, with same fears as anybody else. A modern woman trying to make a difference. I grew up on Agatha Christie, and love a good mystery. This was a good murder mystery with a lot going on. I was glued to the pages, when I got my surprise at the end. I wanted to read another one. So book two please, as I’m impatient for the next one.
Profile Image for Mary.
270 reviews13 followers
October 21, 2020
I received an advance review copy from Hidden Gems for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Enthralling and definitely worth reading so far.

I loved the way that the characters evolved in this book, the author did a great job making you believe and get attached to Cici, Sam and even Evan.

The plot and guilty person, as well as the clues to throw you off the scent were so well written that I didn't even have a clue who it was until right at the end and the flashing arrows were pointing at the person. What a shocker from left field.

The spiritual (religious) elements of the book were nicely written, just reminding you that Cici is a Reverend, but also not in your face.

Nicely written, wanted to keep me reading to the end, and I look forward to reading book 2.
Profile Image for Jennifer Prescott.
507 reviews20 followers
May 19, 2018
I don't usually particularly like mysteries, but this one was AMAZING! I've read everything else by this author, and loved them, and she did not disappoint this time! The story caught my attention from the first; and I could not guess "who done it"! The character of Reverend Cecelia ("Cici") Gurule was was well done, and the cast surrounding her throughout was incredibly well fleshed out. The intriguing bit of Cici's twin helping her navigate the investigation Cici basically fell into was eerie and well thought out. If you enjoy mysteries, this is one you won't want to miss!!
Profile Image for Bec.
1,275 reviews4 followers
August 14, 2018
I absolutely loved this story. I have no words!! So brilliantly twisty!
Alexa Padgett is a fantastic Author. Can’t wait for the next instalment in this amazing new series. Recommend to all.
Profile Image for Wendy.
2,322 reviews40 followers
September 29, 2018
In “A Pilgrimage to Death” Alexa Padgett sets the stage for an action-packed, mesmerizing mystery thriller that opens in Santa Fe, New Mexico where Cici Gurule, an easy-going, broad-minded minister has returned to shepherd the parishioners at a local church after her twin sister’s murdered. Friends with Sam Chastain who’s returned home to the Santa Fe Police Force after abandoning a promising career in a joint task force in Denver, Cici while hiking with him along the Aspen Vista Trail discover the body of Donald Johnson, a lawyer and one of the founding members of her church. Stabbed multiple times, his wounds appear to be similar to those that killed her sister Anna Carmen.

Fast-paced and gripping from start to finish, intensity and suspense heat up when Cici gets swept up in murders with a connection to a drug ring that has her asking questions only to be threatened with two dead white birds on the windshield of her car; a high-speed chase with a black truck; and a knife-wielding dark figure outside her house. Determined to find her sister’s killer the mystery deepens with twists and turns, even ghostly sightings that prevent her death.

Amid all the violence as Cici searches for the truth and the murderer draws closer, friendship turns to something else as her chemistry with Sam ignites although he has a girlfriend in the mayor’s office he doesn’t quite trust. Skilfully Alex Padgett draws you in as events unfold that progress quickly and smoothly to a shocking ending.

Bringing the story to life are wonderfully compelling, realistic and multifaceted characters like thirty-year-old Reverend Cecilia (Cici) Gurule who left a prosperous church in Boston as well as her boyfriend to return home after her sister was murdered. A caring, perceptive and progressive minister who depends more on dreams of the past and her sister’s hazy visitations than faith to find the killer, she joins forces with Sam Chastain, a diligent, close-mouthed but sometimes blunt SFPD detective finding clues where they're least expected.

I liked the first in the Reverend Cici Gurule Mysteries “A Pilgrimage to Death” an innovative and exciting page-turner that keeps you on the edge of your seat until done.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,364 followers
Want to read
August 10, 2018
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609 reviews
June 16, 2020
The opening lines of this book: “Ceclia Gurule was a reverend for God’s sake. She dealt in souls - the broken, empty, seeking, and yes, the dead. Bodies? Not her wheelhouse. At least they weren’t until that Tuesday afternoon when Domine Deus decided to test both her faith and her life. She came within a bullet of losing both.”

While on a hike on the Aspen Vista Trail in the Santa Fe National Forest, Cici and her friend, Santa Fe Police Department detective Sam Chastain discover a body. The victim’s wounds are identical to the ones that killed her identical twin sister a year ago, and Cici is convinced the two murders are somehow related. Her sister haunts her dreams, urging Cici to solve her murder. The closer she gets to finding out who dunnit, the more she puts herself in jeopardy.

I found this an enjoyable read. I was drawn to the story by the setting (Santa Fe, my town) and the idea of a reverend getting involved in murders. The relationships between the characters, and the references to familiar landmarks kept me coming back for more. If I had any criticism of the story, it would be the parts involving Cici’s occupation seemed a bit … cardboard. I’m used to reading the works of William X. Kienzle, where the priest’s faith and day-to-day work life were central to the story. Cici’s occupation seemed like just a vehicle to get her involved with murders, rather than a real occupation. Someone shoots Cici’s dog with an arrow. That was a hard few pages for me to read. It was relevant to the plot, the violence occurs off-screen, and the dog survives, but it still disturbed me.

Those complaints aside, I liked the pace of the book, the character development, the possible romance between Sam and Cici, and the way Santa Fe is featured in the story. I also liked the light paranormal elements, and hope Cici’s sister sticks around through future books. I though I had an idea of who the bad actors were in the story, but the ending came as a surprise. I will read more in this series.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
83 reviews
October 5, 2020
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

This story focuses on Rev. Cici who is not your stereotypical religious leader. Cici had a twin sister, Anna Carmen, who was murdered. Cici returned to her hometown the moment she felt her twin's death. Now she is the Pastor in her small hometown, hiking trails with her best pal and an officer who also returned to their hometown, Sam. When on a usual hike, Sam receives an emergency call from a dispatcher that someone is experiencing heart problems on the same trail they are one. When Sam and Cici arrive to find Donald, a lawyer and church congregant, dead. The knife wounds are the same as Anna Carmen's and this opens up old wounds and a cold case.

With the help of Anna Carmen's spirit, Cici is on the trail to learn who killed her and Donald and why. There is so much going on that involves other murders, drug operations, DEA and truths coming out.

This book is a rollercoaster of excitement in following the trail to who is the murderer and why they did it. Cici's life is threatened multiple times as she keeps on her search.

I couldnt put this book down once I started to read it. If you love a good mystery with alot of clues and detail...you will love this book.
265 reviews37 followers
May 21, 2018
Great Mystery!!! This is a really good story. There are twists and turns everywhere! The character development is great and you really get a feel for not only the two main characters but also the supporting casting. The story progresses in a natural but steady flow.
As an added bonus, I actually live in the surrounding area of where the story takes place and Alexa does a great job of capturing the scenary and feel of this region.

Cici returned to Santa Fe when she felt the connection with her twin sister die out. Sadly, it was a permanent loss and one year later, she still feels that loss daily. Still, she's working as the Reverend of the local church, she has Sam as her best friend, she has her dogs, one day at a time, she is moving forward with life. Until another murder happens and it's eerily familiar....until the threats start coming her way....until there are more questions than answers. Can she help Sam solver her sister's death? Can hr sister give her the clues? More importantly, will she survive long enough to do it?

Really great story. I can't wait to see what new mess Cici will get herself mixed up in.
Profile Image for Myreadbooks.
1,456 reviews18 followers
August 10, 2018
I would like to thank Sidecar Press LLC and Netgalley for this partnership.

I was immediately attracted by the cover: we see Cici from back wearing a red coat and black pants at the edge of the forest.

We learn from the beginning that Cici had a twin sister but she was murdered and they threatened her church. Until the day a corpse is found in the forest of Santa Fe, she finds that the body carries the same stab wounds that killed her sister a year earlier;

Cici will discover a lot of things about her twin sister's past. She will do everything to avoid another assassination.

A thriller read in one go, I immediately hooked to the captivating story, moving filled with suspense and twists. Eager to read what follows.
Profile Image for Charity Chimni.
Author 2 books9 followers
December 19, 2018
Wow! I couldn't put it down. I love the concept of the bond between the sisters surviving even death. The book was heavy of mystery and suspense. I was guessing til the end. I love the budding relationship and connection between Cici and Sam. As a romance lover, I'd love to see the romance evolve faster, but I understand this is a mystery...so I can be patient! I can't wait to see what the rest of the series brings!
2,316 reviews7 followers
September 29, 2020
This is the first book in this new series and the first book I've read by this author. This suspenseful mystery takes you through twists and turns you won't see coming. In this small town people aren't who they seem. You get danger, lies, betrayal and so much more. Cici and Sam try to figure out who is killing people and who is all involved. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Profile Image for Marta Aldrighetti.
424 reviews2 followers
May 16, 2018
Reverend Cecilia , called Cici, found in the mountain, Donald dead,
so begin again to investigate with Police Sam, about Cici twin sister dead, Anna Carmen.
So many hidden things misteries in the city of Santa Fe, hard work for the Police to discover what happen.
Profile Image for KFForever.
1,053 reviews33 followers
August 13, 2018

Reviewed by Anna Green on behalf of KindleFriendsForever

This is my first book by this author and is one of my favourite genres, a murder mystery thriller; the first book in a series featuring Reverend Cici Gurule but can be read as a standalone.

Cici Gurule is a progressive reverend who went back to her hometown when she felt something was wrong with her identical twin, Anna Carmen. Her plan of joining her boyfriend for an adventure to South America was abandoned. We have all heard how tight a bond is between twins and we see this in Cici and Anna Carmen. So when Cici received a phone call that Anna Carmen was murdered she had to find out who killed her twin. However, when she starts digging up dirt on some people, she receives warning notes and dead birds on her doorstep and some of her parishioners start dying. She needs to get to the bottom of this with the help of Sam, an old friend. He is a detective who previously worked in the big city, but also came back to town to help solve the murders and a much bigger problem which involves a drug ring.

Narrated in third person, this gripping story is fast paced, full of suspense with a touch of the paranormal. I had conflicting feelings regarding the mystical angle to this thriller which is unreservedly sprinkled throughout the book, but somehow it adds credence to the tale. This is not your usual whodunit thriller; nonetheless,  it does make it more interesting and attention-grabbing. Sam’s backstory was implied that he was more into Anna Carmen in the past. As a secondary character, his loyalty and protectiveness towards Cici meld well with her stubborn, determined and feisty persona; they complement each other. Bear in mind that this is not a romance novel so the focus is about solving Anna Carmen’s murder.  Trying to keep up with the plot twists in the story kept me up all night but it was worth it. This is not your usual run of the mill murder mystery yarn and I am glad I got the chance to read this author’s book, it won’t be my last.
Profile Image for Maggie Carpenter.
Author 126 books298 followers
January 12, 2019
A mesmerizing read. Totally captured my imagination and kept me turning the pages. A unique storyline relating to twins, but I don't want to give away ANYTHING. Great characters. This is a big thumbs up from me. If you like mysteries, you'll love this one.
28 reviews
May 18, 2018
What an amazing read! Alexa Padgett has everything in this book! A twin who lost her twin, and the murderer was never caught. Sadly, i put off reading this book because life got in the way, but onc i started, i didnt want to stop. Cant wait to see what comes next!
Profile Image for Karen Galloway.
931 reviews6 followers
April 30, 2019
Very Enjoyable

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. This is a really enjoyable, entertaining Book from Alexa Padgett and I didn’t want to put it down. It has a Great, entertaining storyline and really engaging, well written characters. It’s a very good, entertaining must read book that I really enjoyed reading
Profile Image for Dee Kendall.
337 reviews5 followers
September 26, 2020
Excellent read!

I received a free copy from the author, for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jay Williams.
1,707 reviews20 followers
October 2, 2020
Cici is drawn back to her home town by the death of her twin sister. Her sister's death is just the beginning of a series of deaths by an unknown assailant. Finding the killer is the basis for the story. The characters are somewhat superficial, but get the job done. The plot twists and turns, and depends on clues sent to Cici by her dead twin. The book is easy to read and quickly becomes deeply engrossing. I received a copy of this book from Hidden Gems. I enjoyed the story, but was not motivated to buy the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Denise.
4,121 reviews13 followers
December 13, 2018
First time in reading this author but she sure did a number on me with this one that I will read her again. I love a good mystery with this catching my attention with it being a mystery. The character Cici picked my interest so I immediately was swept up into this. She comes upon another death in it opens up the way to bigger things. There was also a twin that has a part with this and that this author knows how to captivate you with this one. She is not alone in this and the way it is woven this is one mystery that has you glued to wanting to help with the answers. It will build and escalate to where you will be swept up thank goodness. Greatly enjoyed this one and ready for the next one.
Profile Image for Janie.
825 reviews4 followers
July 30, 2019
Inconsistent quality of writing, but a compelling plot with lots of action
Profile Image for Margaret Daly.
Author 7 books241 followers
November 14, 2020
A high speed, life and death action mystery! Loved this book. It has every element you are looking for!
29 reviews
September 23, 2020
Twin sister is murdered

2nd twin works on finding the killer with help from the beyond! Best friend Sam proves to be more than just an ally!
Enjoyed the story of the twins and even more how Cee tripped over the clues until it was almost too late!
Profile Image for Grace.
507 reviews8 followers
August 24, 2021
This really wasn't my sort of book. I think the premise of it was much better than the reality. Unfortunately, I also purchased the other books in the series. I wish I'd waited.
Profile Image for Khardine Gray.
Author 112 books674 followers
January 6, 2019
I loved, loved this book and was so intrigued from start to finish xx
Profile Image for Jennifer Louise.
118 reviews1 follower
May 16, 2018
I received an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is a mix of crime, thriller, supernatural and romance, which somehow works perfectly together. Alexa Padgett has started a series about Reverand Cici who returns home following the murder of her twin. While Cici balances her new congregation, and re-establishes friendships/romances she delves deeper into her sisters unsolved death.

Alexa weaves a brilliant story which at times causes the reader to question their beliefs and at the same time suspend their bias' to understand the significant bond twins hold even after death.

This novel is plot driven and therefore many questions will arise in relation to the characters, how they know each other, and where their relationships stem. Knowing this will become a series leaves me to believe our questions will be answered as we move forward, and depth will be gained as the series expands.

I highly recommend this novel for anyone looking for writers similar to Ruth Ware, Gilly MacMillian or Dean Koontz.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 99 reviews

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