CheckmateCheckmate by Steven James
Series: The Bowers Files
Genres: Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Published by Signet on December 2, 2014
Pages: 596
Also in this series: The Queen, Opening Moves, The King
Also by this author: The Queen, Opening Moves, The King, Fury, Every Crooked Path


Justice wrestles with the darkness and we are, each of us, caught up in the fight.”–Checkmate
Six agents are killed at a covert FBI facility. While he watches the injured and holds the hand of the dying, Patrick Bowers can do nothing to stop it. He has seen evil, he has fought to keep the demons at bay, but with this vicious attack on his colleagues and friends Patrick finds himself facing nemeses from his past. In his quest for justice, will Patrick be able to hold on to that which he holds most dear or will he give into the haunting desires that have been with him for decades? With great twists, excellent suspense, deep themes, fabulous writing, and a great attention to detail, Checkmate is the perfect conclusion to this chapter of the Patrick Bowers series.

There are very few authors who can consistently write at the high level Steven James has maintained throughout the Patrick Bowers series. From the Pawn to Checkmate, each story in this series has been complex, entertaining, fresh, intriguing, and loaded with suspense. While some books in the series are `who done it’ mysteries, others are more straight-up suspense/thriller. With Checkmate, we get a little bit of both along with a side of motive.

One of my favorite parts of this series has been the characters and the relationships they build with each other.

Patrick and Tessa’s relationship has grown and the bond that has developed between them is truly remarkable. Checkmate continues the trend of allowing the reader to really get to know the characters involved and care about their lives. Tessa remains a fabulous conduit for introspection and again gives readers fantastic themes and ideas to work through. We also get to watch Patrick wrestle with the demons he’s fought for most of his life and better understand not just him, but ourselves.

Checkmate does an excellent job of bringing together the various themes and plots that have been running throughout the series. In addition to having a wonderfully complex plot by itself, this story also wraps up many of the dangling storylines from previous books. While prior books in this series could be enjoyed as a standalone or read out of order, Checkmate should be read last. In closing out the series, it references of other books, resulting in substantial spoilers for some of those stories.

Checkmate has some very shocking twists, but not all are in a typical way. At times, the surprise is in the reader’s reaction to a character or the execution of a plan. However, throughout there is a good balance between reveal and guessing that keeps the story moving and the pages turning.

Throughout this series, Steven has excelled in producing well-researched, high quality books. Like its predecessors, Checkmate isn’t a story with a good idea but sloppy execution. Instead, there is a great attention to detail in not only the plot, but also in creating the environment. Charlotte, North Carolina is well researched and its history and current culture blend nicely into the story. Everything works together and the pieces form a coherent picture rather than asking the reader to just go with it.

This is a very special series. At times it’s dark and takes the reader to places they don’t necessarily want to go.However, through this journey there are fabulous truths revealed and ideas to contemplate that are highlighted by a story that explores the complexity of being human. Checkmate encourages the reader to think, to consider, to examine, and to see more than just a story of a violent crime and the psyche of a brutal killer.

It’s a little sad to reach the end of this chapter of the Patrick Bowers series.

It’s been a fun ride and a joy to watch the overarching story come together. Great job by Steven James of closing out what has been an absolutely fantastic series!

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