Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: The Queen

The Queen (Patrick Bowers Files - Book 5) by Steven James

Publication Date: September 2011
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Genre: Christian Fiction/ Thriller
Pages: Paperback, 517pp
ISBN-13: 9780800733032
ISBN: 0800733037

(Received for an honest review from Revell Books)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository,, IndieBound

Steven James on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from The Queen


"Steven James continues to raise the bar in suspense writing. The Queen takes readers to a new level of suspense and is the best book in the Patrick Bower series hands down!"  ~ Suspense Magazine

While investigating a mysterious double homicide in an isolated northern Wisconsin town, FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers uncovers a high-tech conspiracy that ties long-buried Cold War secrets with present-day tensions in the Middle East.

In his most explosive thriller yet, bestselling author Steven James delivers a pulse-pounding, multilayered storytelling tour de force that will keep you guessing. 

"The Queen is the latest Patrick Bowers thriller from the author Publisher's weekly calls a "master storyteller at the peak of his game.""


Readers looking for a fast-paced, in your face, thriller need look no farther. The Queen, fifth book in the Patrick Bower Files series, by Steven James is jam packed with action, a hint or romance and more twists and turns than readers will know what to do with. This is Christian Fiction's version of the thriller and it doesn't disappoint in any way. James is able to instill his books with heart stopping action from a Christian perspective and proves that you don't have to have extreme violence or over the top sexuality to create a fantastic thriller!

Geospatial profiler Patrick Bower's is tracking down a lead on a long-standing case when he is pulled in to take a look at a double murder and suicide in Wisconsin. Bower's is normally reserved for cases involving serial killers and terrorists and is at first confused as to why the local PD could not handle the case. But as he begins to put two and two together he realizes he may have stumbled onto a conspiracy that could provide a link between the Cold War and today's terrorist activity in the Middle East. It's up to Bowers to figure out who the mysterious Valkyrie is and how he ties in with a plot to start WWIII, before it's too late. With his private life in chaos and his mind in turmoil, how will he ever find the clues in time to save the world. 

The fifth book in the Patrick Bower's Files series starts off with a bang and doesn't let up until the final pages of the novel. The Queen, like the other books in the series takes its name from the classic game of Chess and alludes to the cat and mouse game that is prevalent in most thrillers. But Steven James doesn't write a typical thriller. He uses all of the normal strategies that most thriller writers employ but that's where the comparison stops. James is able to create the same heart pounding, gritty, emotional response that you get from any thriller, but he doesn't have to use violence and sex to get there. His writing style is akin to a blend of Tom Clancy and Terry Blackstone. The action doesn't let up, but good always prevails in the end and The Queen is not exception to the rule. 

Though this is book five it not necessary to read the first four to make the book understandable or satisfying. Readers may benefit from reading the other books first in terms of back story and the development of the characters but The Queen has it's own story arch and is well able to stand on it's own. There are some elements of the story that are however carried over from previous books, like the long-standing case involving Basque and Pat's troublesome relationship with his step-daughter. The reader is easily able to pick up on what has happened and how it affects the characters in this novel. I think James gives just enough information to make the reader feel at home with the characters, but doesn't dwell on the past. 

Patrick Bowers is such an amazing character. He is very analytical and observant. He is able to pick up on things that other people seem to overlook. He isn't a perfect character though, which illustrated by all of the chaos in his private life. Readers will be just as interested in how he interacts with his brother as they are how he gets into the mind of the killer. Pat's first person point of view is interspersed with the POV's of several of the secondary characters throughout the book, which may sound confusing, but it really works within the story. It gives the reader a look into what makes Pat tick, how he is viewed by others and how his actions affect everyone else in the story. 

Steven James creates villains with the best of them. He can make the reader feel sympathy for even the worst of the bad guys. I liked the fact that he took as much time developing the character of the mastermind as he did Patrick Bowers himself. James is able to give the reader a glimpse into the tangled mind of a serial killer or the motivations that drive someone to plot a world war. Though, saving the world may seem like a cliche plot, James takes it to an extreme level. The last part of this book is so full of action that I was on the edge of my seat and I had to remember to quit holding my breath. It is just that powerful and it still astounds me that he can pull it off without gratuitous sex or overwhelming violence. I am not generally the biggest fan of heavy mysteries or thrillers, because of all the unnecessary stuff, but James proves you can still write a heart-pounding gritty novel without all the extras.

This is a great series and The Queen is anything but a let down. I recommend this one to thriller and mystery fans and to those readers who want to feel that angst and nervousness that a good thriller provides. It may be clean, but it certainly doesn't hold back. Not your typical Christian Fiction release in my opinion. Well written and tightly plotted. Don't miss it!

Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag! 

Critically acclaimed author Steven James has written more than twenty books, including The Pawn, The Rook, The Knight, and The Bishop, all part of the bestselling thriller series The Bowers Files. The Pawn is the basis of a TV series currently in development. One of the nation's most innovative storytellers, Steven developed his skill as a performer at East Tennessee State University (MA in storytelling). He lives in Tennessee with his wife and three daughters.