Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Pawn

by Steven James
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Available in paperback. Revell, 2007; ISBN: 0800732405; 432 pages.

The first in the Patrick Bowers Files series, The Pawn introduces our hero, an envrionmental criminologist. In other words, his professional specialty is tracking criminals by analyzing the details and significance of time and location of the offense. Since his wife died a year ago, he has spent all his time traveling between speaking engagements. This has left his step-daughter stranded in the care of his mother, until a string of women are found murdered near Asheville, North Carolina, and Bowers is flown in to help with the case. He tries to juggle the restoration of his relationship with his daughter and the investigation of a serial murderer who leaves yellow ribbons and chess pieces at each gruesome scene. The chilling investigation includes several twists of political conspiracy and a Jonestown related cult.

This book is not for the sensitive or weak. I was sick to my stomach through parts of it and decided I couldn't read any more. Then I spent the next few days wondering what happens! I had to pick it up again. Once I did, I finished the book in two days.

The book is extremely graphic but that is what makes the book so great. I'm not adding virture to blood and gore, but certainly admiring the author's amazing ability to describe every detail, to make the characters and the plot more than tangible to readers. He involves every sense to portray authentic characters you'll think about long after you've turned the last page. Furthermore, the plot is beautifully intricate! I loved the historical threads woven throughout the story. Mr. James has thoroughly done his research and honed his craft.

One thing: Because Revell is the publisher, I expected a more definitive spiritual bent. What faith undertones exist are definitely UNDERtones. I'm curious if the characters' spiritual journeys are detailed further in the rest of the series.

Final Thoughts: If you like psychological thrillers, you'll love this book. It's not for everyone; personally, it's not my favorite genre, but this author handles it with mastery.

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