The Queen

The QueenThe Queen by Steven James
Series: The Bowers Files
Genres: Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Published by Revell on September 1, 2011
Pages: 529
Also in this series: Opening Moves, The King, Checkmate
Also by this author: Opening Moves, The King, Checkmate, Fury, Every Crooked Path


On the cusp of finding serial killer Richard Basque’s accomplice, FBI agent Patrick Bowers was redirected to investigate an alleged murder/suicide in a small Wisconsin town. At the time, it seemed a strange decision since the crime was clearly outside of the FBI’s scope. However, once Patrick began to investigate he quickly discovered the evidence did not point to a straightforward murder/suicide, but rather a terrorist plot with frightening consequences. With an elusive opponent that seemed to be several steps ahead of him, Patrick must race against a clock he doesn’t even know is ticking to find the truth hidden in the crevices.

I’m beginning to think that Steven James cannot write a dud.  

Even though The Queen is not quite as good as The Bishop, it’s still absolutely fantastic, with the wonderful twists and incredible complex plot that has been a hallmark of this series. It reflects an attention to detail and quality craftsmanship that I expect when I pick up one of James’ novels. From realistic characters to thought provoking ideas, it has all the elements I want in a book which is exactly why this is the series that I look forward to more than any other each year. I love the Patrick Bowers series and I have yet to read a better author in this genre than Steven James.

As much as I enjoyed The Queen, I think it had a couple of weaknesses. My least favorite book in this series is The Rook. The characters didn’t resonate with me and I found the main plot less engaging than the books focused on tracking a serial killer.  Since The Queen ties into The Rook, it’s not surprising I had similar issues with it. The main mystery Patrick is trying to solve, deals with a complex hacking conspiracy. The masterminds behind the plot lacked the multi-faceted personalities I like in my villains. They weren’t flat, but they didn’t evoke strong emotions. On the other hand the plot that ran parallel to this one featured an amazingly complex character that I found completely fascinating. Additionally, while I found the conspiracy storyline to be well researched and very realistic, it was somewhat overwhelming which made the pacing feel slightly off. The depth and complexity of the overall plot is absolutely incredible and a testament to James’ attention to detail and craftsmanship. Ironically, I find it less frightening and more comfortable to probe the mind of a serial killer than contemplate the far reaching consequences of this conspiracy.

For those that have complained about the violence in this series, I fear they miss the beautiful redemption and simple truth that’s presented through Tessa’s story.

Tessa’s part in each book has been as enjoyable as the main mystery. I have loved watching her character evolve from a sarcastic, hostile teen to an insightful, maturing adult. Some of the best spiritual insights in these books have been provided by her working through her internal struggles and The Queen continues this trend. Her part in The Bishop ended tragically and I have looked forward to finding out how she handled those events. I love the questions that James brought up in this book as well as her internal conflicts that many can relate to. However, this is the first time I didn’t feel as though her journey progressed naturally. The events leading up to the climax of her part didn’t feel Tessa like. I liked the outcome, but it felt too convenient for her personality.

The major perk of reviewing books is receiving titles a few months before their release. To be able to read The Queen three months early makes the hours spent reading other books and writing reviews worth every second. Even though I liked The Bishop better than The Queen, that’s really like saying Fuji apples are better than Gala apples. They’re both quickly and easily devoured.

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