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The fourth installment in the Kirkus Reviews, National Indie Excellence Awards and Publishers Weekly award-winning series by USA Today Best-Selling Author, J. J. Cagney:

Reverend Cici Gurule went to the sacred Chaco Canyon in search of a sign. She's been offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in a megachurch, but taking the position would mean abandoning her Southwestern home and the man she's grown to love as much more than a friend. She's so caught up in her thoughts that she doesn't realize when she stumbles upon a group of heavily armed operatives on the verge of an execution.

Soon, Cici's dodging bullets and scaling mesas with the mysterious man she saved from certain death. With a little help from her twin sister's ghost and restless ancestral spirits, they venture deeper into the maze-like rocky terrain. But her new companion's deadly aim makes her wonder if she can afford to trust his side of the story.

To make it out of the canyon alive, Cici must unearth the true story behind the man and a sacred Navajo artifact before the next blood shed on sacred ground is hers.

An Artifact of Death is a standalone novel in a series of high-octane mystery/thrillers for fans of Ruth Ware and Gilly MacMillan.

225 pages, Kindle Edition

Published May 21, 2019

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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 30 reviews
Profile Image for Heather❀Kiss The Pages❀.
709 reviews272 followers
May 21, 2019
This is not my typical kind of book but the blurb intrigued me. I'm so glad I tried it because this was a very fast paced, suspense filled story that I really enjoyed.

The book takes us on a journey with Reverend Cici who is on the run. This was simply a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She escapes to Chaco Canyon for some much needed time for reflection and just her luck she stumbles upon the wrong people. Now she finds herself being chased by the Russian Bratva and putting her trust helplessly in a mysterious man Anton who she hopes is really her ally.

I loved the thrill of the chase and the constant impending danger to these characters had me on the edge of my seat. There is a supernatural element to this book as the ghost of Cici's dead twin intervenes to help them. My first reaction was to think this was ludricous but it was actually quite authentic and added another layer to the story that intrigued me more.

I enjoyed all the action packed, adrenaline spiked adventure but of course I always look for the romance in any story. Sam is a detective who it seems has been friends with Cici for a while but they recently have hinted at having romantic feelings for each other. They both seem unsure of how the other feels. Sam joins a federal task force to rescue Cici and for most of this book they are not together, so there is not much romance. However, I'm dying to see where their relationship goes in the next book.

My only regret is not reading the first two books in the series first. It can be read as a standalone but I felt like I was missing out a lot of details especailly as it pertained to Sam and Anna Carmen, Cici's identical twin. The ending is not really a cliffhanger but there is much more to come to the story and I can't wait!

4 Stars
Suspense / Mystery
POV: Dual
Heat Level: N/A
HEA: Yes but incomplete storyline


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Profile Image for BookAddict.
1,524 reviews114 followers
May 23, 2019
What if your life's work, down to your very soul, was to honor all of God's creation, yet you were forced to fight for your life? This is the dilemma Reverend Cici Gurule finds herself facing in “An Artifact In Death,” and the hits just keep on coming as Cici finds herself right in the middle of international espionage in the New Mexican desert involving guns, sacred ruins and way too many bad guys. Cagney really turns up the tension with heart-pounding, non-stop action, breath-taking suspense, a disquietude of faith, and a flawless touch of supernatural.

I was very fortunate to read an early copy of this book, and nothing I say will begin to do it justice. This author is one who has proven herself time and again, whether it’s contemporary romance or intense, driving suspense like the Cici Gurule series. After each book in this series I read, I wonder how Cagney will manage to top herself in the next, and somehow she does. Every single time. This is her most spellbinding, riveting, compelling book yet. It shocked me, arriving at the end of this book, to realize the very short period of time it covered. I was glued to the page and barely set the book down. I also learned an important lesson about warning family about interruptions ahead of time so I wouldn’t go full-out psycho on them. Sorry family. But this book is just that good, and I vehemently resented being pulled out of it.

Although this is part of a series, Cagney does a great job of filling in the blanks, so you could conceivably read this one without reading the previous books. But, trust me on this, there’s so much delicious previous buildup that plays into this book that your experience will be much richer reading the rest of the series. One thing is sure. You’re not going to find this kind of absorbing, engaging, enticing suspense anywhere else, so grab this one today!

*I reviewed this book freely and voluntarily, having made no commitment to provide a review and receiving no compensation of any kind from any source for this review.
116 reviews
May 23, 2019
This is the third book in the Reverend Cici Gurule Series. That being said, you could read this book as a standalone if you like, but there are references to the first two books. I would also recommend reading the first two books because, well, they're just that darn good! On with the review. 

Cici Gurule is a reverend who seems to fall right into mysteries. Some might say it's a knack. Others would consider it a curse. But either way, Cici is able to navigate around murder and mystery with a distinctly fresh point of view. You see, Cici has a guardian angel, her twin sister Anna Carmen, who lost her life in an earlier book and now sends messages to Cici in unique ways. Cici has decided she needs time to think about what direction she wants her life to go since the mystery of her sister's death has been solved. She is unsure of her relationship with Sam and if it can even be defined as a relationship.
 So, when she is offered a new position in a new location, Cici decides she needs to go to the place she promised Anna Carmen they would visit- Chaco Cultural National Historical Park.

While she is sorting through her feelings, Cici overhears a conversation that sounds like someone is being kept against their will. Not only that, it sounds like they're about to lose their life! Cici tries to get away without being discovered and....

That's more than enough to get you started.
2,090 reviews41 followers
May 28, 2019
The Reverend Cici Gurule decides to take a short vacation. She's traveled to Chaco Cultural National Historical Park. The area is remotes and deserted. It's just her luck that she stumbles on kidnappers and their victim. Now she's on the run with an undercover agent. Can they make it out alive while they're being hunted by vicious killers? Cici is a strong, intelligent woman. She puts herself in danger. She won't give up. She believes that life is sacred but what will she do to stay alive. I love the connection that the Reverend has with her deceased twin. Her relationship with Anton is complex. He is deadly and he isn't afraid to kill if necessary. I admired how he protects Cici. Meanwhile Detective Sam Chastain is desperate to rescue Cici. I wish these two would face the fact that they care for each other and do something about it. This story kept me on the edge of my seat. An Artifact of Death has vicious killers, political intrigue, Russian agents and angry spirits. I can't wait to see what next has for Cici.
I received a copy of this book which I voluntarily read and reviewed. My comments are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Michelle.
7,893 reviews16 followers
May 25, 2019
Reverend Cici is in the sacred Chaco Canyon in search of a sign to help her with a big decision. But as her luck goes she stumbles across armed operatives in the middle of a crime and now she's on the run with the victim she saved. I really enjoyed reading this mystery and it's full of action, suspense, intrigue, and a paranormal twist that had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. I am looking forward to reading more books in this series. I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book.
7,344 reviews24 followers
May 10, 2019
Cici is a reverend by her chosen profession. Her middle name maybe trouble for she once against has stumble into a big one. A twin that always beside even after death, hopefully can help her. What about the man she loves and left, will he pull up roots and follow her. Another segment to enjoy with another to follow soon readers hope.
Given ARC for my voluntary review and my honest opinion
698 reviews4 followers
May 24, 2019
This was the first time I've read from Alexa Padgett and it was a great story and well worth it. Will definitely read more of her work.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Nancy (The Avid Reader).
2,326 reviews102 followers
May 23, 2019
Reverend Cici Gurule has a few things she needs to think through and a tough decision to make. Cici has a new job offer at another church and is not sure if she wants to take it. If she takes the job it would mean leaving her home and the people she has come to care about behind. Cici and Sam have been friends for a long time but Cici’s feelings for Sam have become stronger. Cici is not sure if she wants to take the new job and leave Sam behind or if she wants to tell Sam how she feels so they can pursue their relationship.

Cici decides to take a much needed vacation alone so she heads to Chaco Canyon to seek out her much needed answers. At the canyon Cici witness a man being held at gun point by the Russian Bratva. Cici is chased through the canyon by the Bratva dodging bullets she runs to her car and takes off when she looks to her right the man that was being held at gun point has jumped into her car and tells her to go, go, go. Cici has no idea who this man is or if she can trust him. Why was he being held at gun point? Did he do something wrong? Was he the one doing the chasing in the beginning? Or was he the one being chased?

Cici texts the one person she can trust that has always been there for her Sam. Sam is her longtime friend whom she has always been able to count on whenever she called. But can Sam find her in time? Can he save her from these Russian Bratva dudes? Will Cici take the new job? Will she finally tell Sam how she feels about him?

I have read all of the Reverend Cici Gurule Mysteries and truly enjoyed each and every one. An Artifact of Death starts out with action on the first page and never lets up from beginning to end. It will keep you glued to your seat with your heart racing rooting for Cici and her new friend hoping they will make it out alive. While reading An Artifact of Death I felt as if I was right there with Cici as she was dodging bullets I felt as if I could just hear the bullets whizzing by her head and see her as she is ducking and running all at the same time when a bullet zooms by.

I love following alone with Cici as she tries to solve a crime. I just can’t seem to get enough of Reverend Cici Gurule Mysteries. They are so hard to put down I just want to keep reading but sometimes life just won’t let that happen.

I would recommend An Artifact of Death to all fans of mystery, suspense, and thriller with a twist of the supernatural.
128 reviews
May 22, 2019
Reverend CC Gurule has much to contemplate, no better place than Chaco Canyon historical park for quiet and solitude. She un fortunately witnesses a confrontation between Russian gangsters. She escapes with her life but their victim escapes with her! What follows is an adrenaline ride of life and death through the dessert. Will Sam find them in time? This story is filled with what makes the dessert Southwest so beautiful and terrifying. Truly one of the best books in the series. I received an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Bev.
2,852 reviews74 followers
May 22, 2019
Reverend Cici is looking for a sign in the scared Chaco Canyon, what she gets is a group of heavily armed operatives on the verge of execution. Now she is on the run with the stranger she saved from death. As they venture deeper into the mesas and rocky terrain, she gets some help from her twin sister's ghost. Her new companion is pretty handy with a gun and that has her wondering about if he is telling her the truth. Can she get through this so she can decide on what she wants to do with her life? You will have to read the book to find out. I voluntarily reviewed a free ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Marta Aldrighetti.
424 reviews2 followers
April 27, 2019
Cecilia Maria Gurule, called Cici, went to Chaco Canyon National Park to think about a bunch of things and her life:
to accept the new job as reverend in Portland, the man she like Sam, her dead identical twin sister Anna Carmen, her father.
It seems she couldn't have a 3 days holiday alone to think.
she was rape and strange dangerous events occured.
The book is action packed, adventure, fast to read, adrenaline and curios, nice.
Profile Image for Charity Chimni.
Author 2 books9 followers
May 21, 2019
I loved the new adventure! So many twists and turns. I enjoyed seeing the romance between Cici and Sam continue to build. I can't wait for the next installment of their tale! Great characters, and an unexpected journey.
Profile Image for Tam.
1,827 reviews39 followers
July 13, 2020
Wonderful characters. Interesting plot. Vivid descriptions. Simply a GREAT read!
1,217 reviews8 followers
May 14, 2019
Cici discovers a man being held at gun point and takes a picture of them. Her phone camera elicits a loud click that the men hear. She tries to get away as she races to her car. Anton gets in the passenger seat and tells her to drive as bullets are around them. This leads them to drive and leave the car to try to escape the Bratva, and elite assassin group of the KGB. Anton and Cici run to try to escape. There are quite a few of the Russian squad. She gets a text to Sam, but will it be in time?
Profile Image for Bec.
1,276 reviews4 followers
May 5, 2019
Heart-stopping good....
Oh my goodness. I absolutely loved this story. I couldn’t stop reading.
Cici always manages to find trouble...
I loved the detailed history, such descriptive writing, puts you right into the action. Cannot wait for book 4! Recommend to all.
Profile Image for Pat Eroh.
2,586 reviews27 followers
July 14, 2019
I did read the fabulous first book but have not YET read the second. I absolutely am hooked on this series. This one is even better than the first, and I loved it. I highly recommend this book and series.

I received this book from the author for free and am voluntarily providing my honest review.
590 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2019
Hold on to your hat, this story is fast paced and really gets your blood moving. Cici has found trouble again and her dead twin helps her out. Action abound with bad guys with guns blazing are after Cici and the spy agent. Cici is hoping for her friend Sam to save them. This book makes you turn the pages faster and each book in the series just gets better and better!. A great read.
Profile Image for Sheila Lee.
846 reviews10 followers
March 9, 2020
Wow! A suspense book that will definitely keep you reading through bedtime!
This is the third book in the Cici Gurule series and, once again, she gets mixed up in murder and mayhem. Cici is on a mini vacation to try to find the answer to a job opportunity when she discovers herself in the middle of a Russian mob meeting. All she can do is run for her life and, somehow, she finds herself with a passenger. Is he a good guy or part of the mob chasing them?
J. J. Cagney weaves a suspenseful tale about stolen artifact from Native American burial grounds and the length some people will go to gain more power. A 4 1/2-star book that will have you up all night! I small deduction because ... Warning: there is a cliffhanger!
141 reviews
June 3, 2019
This book is a page-turner about Cici, a young minister, who’s forced to team up with a man who could be an agent for any of our country’s alphabet secret agencies ... or maybe he’s an agent against America. They meet at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, in a hail of bullets and bombs. The seemingly endless supply of “other guys” chase them across the desert, canyons and mesas to wrest an ancient native artifact away from him. But the bad guys and harsh country aren’t the only action ... the ghost of Cici’s sister and the supernatural forces of the ancients are flexing their powers, too. Almost everything and everyone in this book is a mystery, and the chase is a thriller I was compelled to read. A great, hold-your-breath book! Thanks to the author!
Profile Image for Sharon.
4,152 reviews27 followers
June 3, 2019
These are new authors to me. This is a fast-paced story that piqued my interest from the get-go. If you enjoy a great story with lots of action and suspense, then you should grab this book. Be prepared to stay sitting for a few hours as you devour this book! It’s so well written with well-developed characters, an brilliant read!
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Nati.
2,082 reviews10 followers
May 27, 2019
Reverend Cici is struggling with some important decisions in her life. She is gone to Chaco to pray. But suddenly she is been dragged into a very dangerous situation and she has to fight for her life. CAn Sam get to Cici in time to salve her and finally tell her how he feels about her? You can put the book down until the end.
8,533 reviews97 followers
May 30, 2019
This is the 4th book I've read written by Alexa Padgett; she has done a great job at writing a good book; I will definitely be reading more of her books.

The story line caught my attention at the very beginning and kept me interested throughout the entire book.

I loved the characters.

I received a free copy of this book via booksprout and I’m voluntarily leaving a review.
11.5k reviews50 followers
August 16, 2019
She went to find her way but ends in the middle of danger as a man was about to be killed. Now they are on the run together but is what he is telling her the truth. is he hiding something?.What is it? now they need to find a relic. Follow them

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
126 reviews
February 18, 2021
An Artifact of Death

I loved this book. I loved all the books before this one in the series.
I plan to get the next book and the next. I am amazed how you were able to put so much mystery, a bit of paranormal events and romance into this series of a Reverend no less.
Wow what talent. Awesome stories without giving anything away and the wonderful paranormal events inserted perfectly ( all of which I believe in) in the story lines. Plus perfect grammar and spelling, I am so impressed!!
Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift of writing with all of us lucky enough to read your work.
Profile Image for Denise.
4,121 reviews13 followers
May 24, 2019
Reverend CiCi takes you deep into this one. She is gonna to give you a good intriguing mystery but also not doing it on her own with a bit of help. You get to really try your hand at solving right along with her because that is how caught up you become. It has a good measure of romance also with it all being in cohoots with each other giving a fast adrenaline read. But the main thing that keeps me coming back is the interesting way the suspense is down. It feeds you full but then it also leaves with the need for more.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
285 reviews9 followers
February 22, 2022
Reverend Cici Gurule wants some tie away to sort out all the information in her head. Chaco Canyon seems just the place until it isn't. The reverend finds herself walking into a terrorist group bent on tearing down a balance between the past and the present, as well as the physical and the spiritual. The disregard for human life and of well-established history of the Anastazi, keeps her fighting for her life as never before. Again, the reader is swept into the characters and danger of Cici's life and beliefs. A must read!
Profile Image for Pat.
1,151 reviews
June 27, 2019
I have not yet read the prior Reverend Cici books, but there was enough backstory to let this story stand on it's own. And what a tale it is! The setting of Chaco Canyon adds to the suspense, as do the spiritual elements, as Cici is swept up into a spy thriller. The writing style moves quickly yet gives plenty of description to add to the enjoyment. All in all, a very good read.

I received this as an ARC.
Profile Image for Monica.
14 reviews
May 21, 2020
Not my favorite

Not as good as the previous 2 books, and I don’t get why a reverend? I like that she’s one but it doesn’t have that much connection to the stories or even her life. I skimmed thru most of this one
Profile Image for Lori Peterson.
846 reviews12 followers
June 6, 2019
Didn't grab me from the beginning, and did not find it worth trying to finish the book.
Profile Image for Teri Ruscak.
1,710 reviews9 followers
July 7, 2021
Alexa Padgett
J. J. Cagney
An Artifact of Death (A Reverend Cici Gurule Mystery Book 3)
I stayed up all night! I couldn't stop reading until the last page! Intense!!
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