The Bishop – Steven James

The Bishop Steven James
The Bishop by Steven James
Series: Bowers Files #4
Published by Revell on August 2010
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Thriller
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five-stars

FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers's cutting-edge 21st-century geospatial investigative techniques and impeccable logic have helped him track some of the country's most grisly killers. But those skills are pushed to the limit in this new installment of the highly-acclaimed, award-winning The Bowers Files series. This time it's a congressman's daughter who is found dead even as her killers launch a spree of perfect murders in the Northeast.

With nothing to link the crimes to each other, Agent Bowers faces his most difficult case yet--even as his personal life begins to crumble around him.Known for his intricately woven, masterfully plotted novels of high-octane action and spine-tingling suspense, Steven James delivers once again.

Step aside Jack Bauer, move away Mr. Bond, to the back Jason Bourne, even you Alex Cross – Patrick Bowers has taken your spotlight, and he’s not giving it up easily. In a culture infatuated crime dramas and superspy thrillers – be they in books, television, or the silver screen – the Bowers Files tops them all. And The Bishop, installment #4 and most recent release is Bowers most intense journey yet.

Building upon the first three books in the series, The Bishop continues the story of Patrick Bowers, an environmental criminologist who uses advanced geospatial technology to track and find serial killers. It’s what he does best. But this time…this time things just aren’t making sense. It seems like Bowers whole investigative strategy is coming undone.

But Patrick’s professional life isn’t the only thing unraveling. He finds himself in the middle of a love triangle and he’s honestly not sure what to do about it. Tessa’s birth father makes an appearance, which only complicates the slowly building bond between Patrick and Tessa. To top it all off, Patrick is haunted by thoughts of a killer he’d caught who was recently set free on a technicality; Patrick knows the man was guilty and is afraid he’ll kill again.

The Bishop offers what is by now Steven James’ trademark – brutally vivid and real descriptions, meticulous portrayal of FBI procedure, and cool geospatial investigative techniques all wrapped around lovable and heroic characters who must grapple with the tough questions raised by the evil they fight daily. What does it mean to be human? Who decides morality? Is there free will? After all, if humans are only different by degree over animals and not in kind, and if we all really do “dance to our DNA” as Richard Dawkins would put it, then can we really say that it’s wrong to murder?

Perhaps it’s the philosopher in me, but it is James’ ability to tackle tough themes without providing simple and trite answers that, in my mind, takes his writing from great literature to great Story. No doubt about it: The Bishop is a well-written book. But there are a lot of well-written books. Steven James provides a story that goes beyond entertainment and engages the reader’s mind. And do that so well without detracting from the story is what has quickly made James one of my favorite authors.

The Bishop is suspense writing at its best. The use of the first-person for Patrick’s point of view heightens the effect as the reader thinks as Patrick thinks and knows what he knows. That’s what makes the ending so utterly unexpected, until you retrace your thoughts and see the trail of clues in hindsight.

As a latecomer to Steven James’ writing (in 2010), I was able to read The Pawn, The Rook, The Knight, and The Bishop in the space of about a week. If I didn’t know it was James’ express intent to craft can’t-stop-now-must-read-more novels, it would have seemed almost offensive to have read four years worth of his work in the course of a week. But as it is, I’m just left chomping at the bit – because now I have to wait nearly a year until the next release. Given the Bowers Files track record, I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait. And now, a decade in hindsight, this series remains one of my favorite.

five-stars

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