When I reviewed Steven James’ debut novel, The Pawn, I hesitated giving it five stars because I wanted to leave room in case the author proved to be more than a one hit wonder. I give The Rook four and a half stars only because I know, The Knight comes out in September. I feel quite sure this writer has several more turns at bat in his career!
Special Agent Patrick Bowers returns along with his hard-to-love-hard-to-hate stepdaughter, Tessa. I mention her in the same sentence with Patrick because her’s is much more than a sub-plot in this heart wrenching suspense thriller. As before, Bowers faces more antagonists than one hero should have to face. But who is his real enemy? Is it the billionaire Victor Drake? Is it the serial killer who dreams of spiders, Creighton Melice? Is it the mysterious man that controls Melice known only as Shade? Or is it an old enemy from The Pawn returned to take care of unfinished business? Luckily, he has several friends, including Special Agent Lien-hua Jiang back to help him in his pursuit of truth.
Steven James understands the importance of pacing in a suspense novel. He knows when to slow things down and when to plunge us forward with our hearts thumping. This is never more evident as when, toward the end of the book, plot and sub-plot first parallel and then collide with each other. Where James seems to have grown as a writer is in character development. Tessa is much more than a whiny teenager this time around (though I still wanted to smack her a couple of times along the way).
This is edgy fiction with a Christian world-view as it should be written. If you’re looking for a Sunday School story with a fairy tale ending, this one isn’t for you. At the same time, if you need to have the curse words spelled out for you for a story to be edgy you will be equally disappointed. James understand neither is necessary to tell an honest and thought provoking story.
In the end, Patrick Bowers comes to understand what many saints of God have learned the hardest way. We are all a mixture of good and evil. All that truly separates the best of us from the worst of us is the Someone outside of us.
This entry was posted on Monday, June 15th, 2009 at 4:09 pm and is filed under Book Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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