Steven James before attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in 2010. I actually ate breakfast with him on my first morning there and came away with two observations. First, that he was funny (which he proved repeatedly throughout the conference) and second, that he was a nice guy. One person who sat at our table didn't realize that he was a faculty member and asked the “so what do you write” question that is the standard ice breaker amongst writers. Steven James couldn't have been more gracious in his reply and I was impressed by how down to earth he was.
I tell you this because without this background information, you might not understand why I would choose to read his books.
His writing is beautiful. His imagery poetic. His stories gripping. But unless I had met him, I might never have read past the first page of the first book.
Because his characters—well, the bad ones—are evil. I'm talking disgusting, vile, nightmare inducing evil. (For more on why he writes about evil the way he does, I highly recommend you read this post).
And if you know me, you know that I'm a wimp. I don't watch scary movies and I don't read horror.
But I love Steven James.
The Patrick Bowers thrillers are some of the best books I've ever read. And if you watch CSI or Criminal Minds, then you can't say you aren't tough enough to handle them. (I don't watch either of those shows because they freak me out, but I can read these books).
So with that out of the way, let me tell you about The Queen.
The Queen is the fifth Patrick Bowers thriller and if you're new to Steven James then you should know that you need to start with the first book, The Pawn, and read the series in order. Each book has a complete story arc, but the cast of recurring characters are some of the most interesting people in fiction and you'll want to get to know them and watch them develop as the series unfolds.
Patrick Bowers is a geospatial profiler for the FBI and is usually called in to investigate when the local authorities suspect they have a serial killer on their hands. So you know something is up when he's pulled off a long-running case and sent to Wisconsin to investigate the murders of a mother and her four-year-old daughter. Murders the police assume were committed by the missing husband and father.
The Queen's plot is the most complex of all the Bowers Files—and that's saying something. You'll have to pay attention. But it's worth it. Patrick Bowers struggles in every relationship he has—with his step-daughter (my favorite character), his girlfriend, his brother, his sister-in-law, his boss, and his co-workers. These characters battle each other and their personal demons as they search for truth, mess up, make peace, and move forward.
And then there are the bad guys—in my opinion the most intriguing characters Bowers has faced yet. We've got a guy whose twisted morality forces him to kill some and save others. We've got a girl who will do anything, including start World War III, to be with the man she loves. And then we've got the mysterious Valkyrie. Who is he? Or she?
You'll have to read The Queen—all the way to the end—to find out.
The Queen is available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
The fine print: I received a free copy of this book. The only requirement was that I provide an honest review.