Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Pawn

(The Patrick Bowers Files, Book 1)

by Steven James

Published by Revell (2007)
432 pages

The game is on …

And FBI Special Agent Patrick Bower’s opponent always seems to be steps ahead in this life or death match. If Bowers doesn’t capture the serial killer soon, his own stepdaughter may be the next victim. But if he continues the grueling and time-consuming search, will he be responsible for the death of the very relationship he needs to resuscitate?

When Patrick Bowers arrives in Asheville, North Carolina, the killer has already claimed six female victims. Six families have lost their daughters. Bowers makes it his job to ensure that no more daughters are stolen from their families.

Underscoring Bowers determination to capture the assassin is the rocky relationship with his seventeen-year-old stepdaughter Tessa. Less than a year into his marriage to Tessa’s mother, Christie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, six months following his wife’s death, Bowers has no clue who his stepdaughter is.

The author, Steven James, deftly weaves together a riveting story with the complexity of a chess match, using strategic planning and misdirection to guide the reader down numerous dead-end paths ultimately ending in a satisfying victory … or is it?

His protagonist, Patrick Bowers is an environmental criminologist, someone who studies the offender’s relationship with the victim and the environment. This position requires remarkable attention to—and analysis of—all details, in addition to ability to read between the lines. As the reader we experience, along with Bowers, appeals to all five senses, and we are given insight to the sixth: intuition. It’s Bowers job to get into the killer’s head, to know precisely what the killer’s thinking, to understand him, almost adding a compassionate and human element to the evil perpetrator.

Ironically, the very man who whose job it is to notice the details no one else will see, fails to see the blessing he has in front of him in Tessa.

Patrick Bowers is an everyman hero, a father who is believably flawed, who wears an arrogance born of experience, education, and natural ability. He’s a man who, like so many of us, wonders, “Where is God in the midst of all the evil?” Yet he’s wise enough to learn the very important lesson of hope:

“Chaos is evidence of human beings.
Hope is evidence of God.”

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