Placebo – Steven James

Placebo Steven James
Placebo by Steven James
Series: The Jevin Banks Experience #1
Published by Revell on November 1, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Thriller
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five-stars

While covertly investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposE filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world's largest pharmaceutical firms. After giving up his career as an escape artist and illusionist in the wake of his wife and sons' tragic death, Jevin is seeking not only answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program, but also answers to why his family suffered as they did.

Rooted in ground-breaking science and inspired by actual research, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. Readers will love this taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James.

Jevin Banks is a master illusionist, but after his wife drives into a lake, appearing to purposely kill herself and their twin sons, Jevin has found an illusion too big for him to pull off. He simply can’t maintain the façade of a normal life, can’t keep doing his magic show. And so he quits. He soon begins a job at a TV show, going undercover and proving psychics and all things supernatural as frauds.

Banks’ latest project involves Nobel laureate Dr. William Tanbyrn and his controversial research on nonlocal mind-to-mind communication. Can people influence and even control others with their thoughts? Tanbyrn’s research indicates that they can, but Banks is more than skeptical. Both Jevin and his assistant Charlene know it isn’t going to be an easy job to covertly disprove Tanbyrn’s experiments, but the job gets even harder when the two find that they aren’t the only intruders.

Jevin and Charlene are assisted by Fionna—a homeschooling mom/super-hacker who takes care of Jevin’s computer needs—and Xavier—a conspiracy theorist with the mechanical and gadget know-how to take care of mechanical needs. Readers are also treated to a storyline involving Riah Collette, genius psychopath, smart enough to hide her true nature and fake emotions and desperate to understand what love really is. The storylines step through an intricate dance, deftly maintaining suspense and a healthy pace, finally intertwining as Jevin comes closer to discovering what’s really going on behind Tanbyrn’s research.

Placebo is the type of novel I’m not quite sure how to describe. It’s a full-frontal assault that combines unique characters, a compelling theme, and an incredible story. In James’s hands, any one of these would make Placebo a worthwhile novel, but combined they make it a must-read that will leave thoughts, questions, and ideas you just can’t quite shake. (Maybe storytelling is a form of mind-to-mind communication?) Not just in the overall picture, but in the details as well. Small scenes that raise big questions. Backstory that adds depth to a character who could’ve been a stereotype. Unresolved questions that make me wonder which will be answered in future novels and which will just be left to imagination.

Over the past few years, James has proved himself to be a great storyteller. His Bowers Files thrillers are engaging, haunting, terrifying, and fun. And while I love Patrick Bowers, I am glad to see James expand his storytelling world with Jevin Banks. I’m strapped in, ready to go, and willing to ride the Jevin Banks Experience wherever it goes.

five-stars

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