The Pawn – Steven James

The Pawn by Steven James
Series: Bowers Files #1
Published by Revell on February 2007
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Christian
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five-stars

Special Agent Patrick Bowers had only met one man who made him truly afraid. Until now. When he's called to North Carolina to consult on the case of an area serial killer, he finds himself in a deadly game. Cunning and lethal, the killer is always one step ahead of the law, and he's about to strike again.

It will take all of Bowers's instincts and training to stop this man who calls himself the Illusionist. And just when the pieces start to come together, Bowers realizes they're not quite adding up. Can he unravel the pattern and save the next victim? Or will the Illusionist win the game by taking one of his opponent's pieces?

Killing is like chess. It’s a game of strategy, wit, and planning ahead. The Illusionist knows this. The Illusionist also knows about distraction. Look over here as I kill over there. Yes. He knows it all. He kills and will kill again. And not even Patrick Bowers will be able to stop him.

Patrick Bowers is an environmental criminologist, meaning he combines the latest techniques in environmental psychology with geospatial investigation, which is in turn, all a fancy way of saying that he looks at where crimes occur, when they occur, how they correlate, and such. Killers have patterns, even if they don’t know it, and the Illusionist is creating a pattern to show just how in control he is. The Illusionist is the chess master while all others are just pawns in his game. Bowers soon finds himself in the middle of his toughest case yet, one where nothing is as easy it seems, and the stakes just might be higher than he thinks.

The Pawn is out-and-out tremendous. Combining Sherlockian reasoning with Hitchcockian suspense, Steven James has created a complex and layered thriller that will keep you turning pages long into the night. And far from being just another throwaway read, James incorporates themes that will keep the reader thinking long after the last page is turned.

More than just a federal agent, Bowers is portrayed as a mere mortal who is still recovering from the loss of his wife to cancer, and trying to reconcile with his teenaged step-daughter Tessa in the midst of it all. Through this element, James touches on the problem of pain and how a loving God could allow evil – evil like cancer…and the Illusionist.

It’s a story like no other, lauded as accurate and insightful by those who should know best. The writing is rock solid and James pulls no punches on depicting evil – and crime scenes – as the grisly and terrifying things they are. Through Patrick Bowers and the art of story, James is giving us a way to ponder the hard questions of humanity. What is Good? What is Evil? Where is the boundary?

Thought-provoking questions serve as a backdrop to the pulse-racing, page-turning, adrenaline-pumping story. If this is only the introduction, I cannot wait to see what Steven James has in store next.

five-stars

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