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on September 23, 2009
Since discovering Steven James' writing a few years back, I've eagerly anticipated each new title. I love tightly spun mysteries. I love gritty thrillers. I love great characters and twists. Welcome to the chessboard of James' storytelling.

"The Knight" takes us once again into the world of Patrick Bowers, an FBI agent with a keen mind. Not only does he have a resume of catching notorious criminals, but he's a forerunner in the field of geoprofiling--pinpointing his targets by using geographical elements from their killing patterns. (It's more complicated than that, but I'll leave it to Bowers to explain.) This time, Bowers is dealing with some ethical quandaries from a conviction years ago, with the continued questions of his step-daughter's past and parentage, and, most pressingly, with the demented new crimes being carried out by a man who calls himself John/Giovanni. The origin of the name and its connections to each of the killings to come unfolds in superlative fashion, with the tension tightening and the pace quickening with each successive chapter, leading to a surprise ending.

Along the way, Pat and his daughter both grow in their understanding of each other, and Pat wrestles with his own romantic inclinations toward women he's worked with. Although some of the romantic aspects seem a bit forced to carry on into another book, I still enjoyed them. More enjoyable is the maturing relationship between step-father and step-daughter. Tessa is an intelligent, brooding teen who provides a human element often missing from this genre.

Once again, James has given us a rip-snorting thriller with a beating heart, a calculating cat-and-mouse game of chess, and a satisfying ending that nevertheless leaves a lot more to be explored in "The Bishop," due out next year. He has joined Harlan Coben, James Lee Burke, and Tim Downs as one of my favorite mystery/thriller writers out there.
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on August 29, 2009
The Knight by Steven James is the third book is the exciting Patrick Bowers series. FBI Agent Bowers uses his unique geographic profiling skills to track down the most violent of criminals. He'll have to use all of his abilities to find a sadistic murderer who is killing people for a twisted story before Bowers and his stepdaughter Tessa become the next victims. This riveting thriller never lets up for a second. From tense courtroom drama to intense action scenes, every page zips by. I love how James has given Bowers an unusual ability, making him stand out from the overloaded FBI action genre. Bowers relies more on his brain than his brawn to outwit criminals, but he's a bit clueless about matters of the heart in interactions with Tessa and new love interest Cheyenne. If you're going through withdrawal this summer because of repeats on Criminal Minds, Numbers,CSI, etc, Patrick Bowers will satisfy your need for a smart and scary suspenseful thriller.
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on October 22, 2012
Anyone who likes a good mystery, can't figure out "who done it", should read all of Bowers books. As stated in all of my reviews of his books, these are the best ever thrilling, "knuckle white" reading. These are the only books that really frightened me!! I suggest you read them in order. They are all excellent reads and I cannot wait for his next book. pat lilley, raleigh, nc
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on July 22, 2012
I just recently discovered author Steven James, and The Knight is his fourth book that I've read in the past two weeks. So it's pretty obvious that I'm hooked. His books are a captivating blend of edge-of-your-seat suspense, characters who are authentic and believable and dialogue that is witty and fun. His stories are typically on the longish side -- 500 pages of small print -- but they are fast reading because they are so hard to put down.

All that being said, not even the best writers -- and Steven James is among them -- can hit a home run every time. I won't go so far as to call The Knight a strike-out -- it's still far better than most of the other thriller/suspense books out there. But having read 4 of the 5 Patrick Bowers books, I will say this one is definitely the weakest installment in the series, for several reasons.

For one thing, there is too little real action and way too much focus on the serial killer's "game" of patterning his murders after stories in The Decameron (no spoiler here, since this is revealed fairly early in the book). Maybe real-life serial killers do get so wrapped up in such fantasy games? But for me the elaborateness and outlandishness of the killer's scheme, and the way Bowers and the other detectives and investigators got so caught up in it, felt very gimmicky, even corny. It was like reading about one of the campy villains on the old Batman TV series I used to watch when I was a kid. All Giovanni was missing was a costume.

Another weakness in the book was the lack of any resolution at the end. It is typical of a Steven James thriller to have numerous storylines going on all at once, but in The Knight there was a marked absence of any resolution to any of them. The apprehension of Giovanni, the trial of Richard Devin Basque, Tessa's search for her father, and Bowers' relationships with Cheyenne and Lien-hua, all were left unresolved at the end of the book. I realize this book is part of a series and the storylines will continue in the next book (which is the only one in the series I haven't yet read); however, there should still be some degree of resolution to at least some of the storylines in every book, otherwise the reader is left feeling let down, almost cheated. At least that's how I felt at the end of The Knight: definitely dissatisfied.

The other major weakness in this book was the main villain, Giovanni. As a true psychopath who began committing murder at age 11 despite being raised in a seemingly good and loving home, he is the most seriously warped of any of Steven James' villains. And yet, when his true identity was revealed at the end, it was so far-fetched that I just couldn't buy it. It is almost as though James cared more about creating a surprising twist to shock his readers than about creating something believable. That a lifelong psychopath like Giovanni could have pursued the career path he did, for so long and without any signs of his true nature ever being detected, just didn't fly for me.

Despite my overall disappointment with The Knight, I still consider Steven James one of the best writers out there and I look forward to reading more of his books.
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on May 17, 2015
Really great series recommended to me by a friend. Interesting concept and well done. The only criticism I have is that alternating voices are a little hard to follow sometimes (first person to third, etc) but don't let this deter you because it's a well done book and series.
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on August 4, 2011
The series just gets better and better. The individual plots are all different - no cookie cutters here. The on-going plot of Patrick's relationship with his stepdaughter (and she is a very interesting character) is evolving realistically. Start with The Pawn and work your way around the chess game.
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on October 11, 2014
I love the balance of the mystery with deep thought. I actually tweeted a couple of lines with "mind blown" included. Steven James has a way of locking you in to his novels and once again, I can't do anything else at this moment other than download the next in the series.
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on December 28, 2013
Love the series. The characters are believable and fully fleshed out. Well written, edge of your seat books. The hero is flawed but likable. The villains are gruesome and easy to hate while admiring their talents. I would highly recommend these books if you like a great plot, characters and story line. Set aside some time because you are going to want to burn through them.
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on April 24, 2012
As I agree with a couple of reviewers, this one is a slow starter; however, it differs from the 1st installment where it jumped around so much and left me really confused. I enjoyed this one better than the 1st two - except for the epilogue (avoid it (trust me) - you won't miss anything because the 4th installment explains what happens.) I couldn't believe how fast I read through it - I don't know if it is actually a shorter book, or I just enjoyed it that much more and couldn't put it down. I just downloaded the 4th installment (The Bishop) and so far, I'm on a roll - reading right through them.

One thing I could really have done without was ... well ... maybe that shouldn't be included in the review.
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on January 10, 2012
This one was even more intense in my opinion then the first two books in the series, and I loved it (though I'm left without nails). Giovanni (the killer in this book) is more intense and I never expected it to be who it turned out to be. He is a killer who takes stories from The Decameron (an older classic book of stories of love gone bad) and enacts them by killing his victims. This was a book that I loved to read and ended great leaving you wanting more. It also brings up a question we all ask ourselves: Is it right to lie to save the innocent, is lying right in any situation? Steven James does a wonderful job of facing this dilema when Patrik is called to the stand. I look forward to the next book!
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