Fatal Domain – Steven James

Fatal Domain by Steven James
Also by this author: Broker of Lies
Series: Travis Brock #2
Published by Tyndale on April 9, 2024
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Thriller
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Si vis pacem, para bellum.
“If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Broker of Lies was easily one of my favorite books last year, as evidenced by my glowing review. I cannot say the same about Fatal Domain by Steven James. Waiting a rather lengthy time to write this review hasn’t changed my opinion. While exciting with good character development, I struggled with it because James got a little too technical. At times, he focused too much on the trees rather than the forest. With how much Travis, Adira, and Gunnar changed in Fatal Domain, I’ll be interested to see what more Steven James does with them in book three. Fatal Domain takes readers on a high-stakes thrill ride…with a cliffhanger ending. When a book ends with, “‘Tell me what you know,’” you know the author’s setting you up for another nail-biting story.

We all have ghosts in the closet. Shame. Depression. Heartbreaking memories too painful to recall. Whatever the case, we all have elements in our pasts that tear us apart. Travis’s past collides with the present in Fatal Domain. What he believes to be true…may not actually be the case. It all stems from a line of computer coding, a line that sends him into an emotional tailspin. One he must balance with his growing romantic relationship with Adira and his professional obligations. Adira, Gunnar, and even the book’s antagonists—Janice Daniels, Søren, and others—face similar moral quandaries. Everything swirls around a technological threat like no other: a tool that can infiltrate air-gapped computers.

Despite its complexities, I followed Broker of Lies very easily. Not so much with Fatal Domain. Things were more disjointed, and I struggled with certain characters’ motives. While some characters are well thought-out in classic Steven James style, others seemed like second thoughts and one-dimensional. I found myself scratching my temple with a figurative question mark over my head. Even if James confused me sometimes, he also made me think, forcing me to reread paragraphs as I examined my personal sentiments on certain topics.

Fatal Domain made me consider forgiveness. Justice. Secrecy. Love. And just in general, the reality of how we as humans often operate: We act like we’re in control of our lives, holding onto the reins, but we’re not. We masquerade as confident kings, but we’re not the ones on the throne. And when we take that seat, there can be dire consequences. Which leads me to my final couple sentences, a quote from Fatal Domain by Steven James that needled into my skin like a permanent tattoo:

“When we play God, there are always unintended consequences that make it clear we’re not up to the task. He creates life in his own image. We create monsters in ours.”