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The Pawn (The Patrick Bowers Files, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this riveting thriller, the first of a planned trilogy, James (Story) introduces FBI agent Patrick Bowers. His professional specialty is environmental criminology, which attempts to track lawbreakers by analyzing the significance of the time and place at which the crime occurred. When corpses of young women start turning up near Asheville, N.C., Bowers is called in. The killer's MO is to tie a yellow ribbon in his victims' hair and leave a chess piece somewhere on the scene. Bowers begins to suspect that the governor of North Carolina, rumored to be the next Republican presidential contender, is somehow connected to the murders, and that a cult with links to Jonestown might also be involved. Making matters trickier, the special agent supervising Bowers turns out to be a longtime colleague with whom Bowers has some bad blood. Bowers, a recent widower with a surly teenage stepdaughter to raise, tries to keep his grief and parental confusion at bay so that he can focus on the case as the killer targets more innocent women. Christian faith makes a subtle appearance in the story and appears to be a theme that will be developed in future installments. A gripping plot and brisk pacing will win James some fans eager for his next offering. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"...A captivating look at the fine line between good and evil. The Pawn is not to be missed."--Ann Tatlock, author of Every Secret Thing -- Ann Tatlock, author of Every Secret Thing

"Steven James combines 21st-century high-tech law enforcement techniques with 18th-century Sherlockian deduction to craft an exciting, suspense-filled story."--Dr. Kim Rossmo, Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation, Texas State University -- Dr. Kim Rossmo, Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation, Texas State University --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451412796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451412799
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (368 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding novels continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

Suspense Magazine, who named James' book The Bishop their book of the year, says that he "sets the new standard in suspense writing." Publishers Weekly calls him a "master storyteller at the peak of his game." And RT Book Reviews promises, "the nail-biting suspense will rivet you."

With a Master's Degree in Storytelling, James has taught writing and storytelling around the world and is one of the seven Master CraftFest instructors at ThrillerFest, North America's premier training event for suspense writers.

Respected by some of the top crime writers in the world, James deftly weaves intense stories of psychological suspense with deep philosophical insights. As Christy Award-Winning novelist Ann Tatlock put it, "Steven James gives us a captivating look at the fine line between good and evil in the human heart."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

309 of 327 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on January 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
Yeah, you read that right...Steven James really makes me mad. I'll tell you why in a moment, but this is a review of his novel and I'll start with that.

On the surface, "The Pawn" looks to be yet another in a long, somewhat wearying string of serial killer novels. I mean, how many more of these can we read before the genre dies? Pun intended. The reason the genre remains strong, however, is because of well-crafted thrillers such as this, ones that include believable characters and original villains. In fact, I suggest that "The Pawn" elevates and transcends its market niche.

The book's protagonist, Patrick Bowers, is struggling to understand his wife's death from cancer and the resulting estrangement from his step-daughter. He doesn't have much time for such things, though, while trying to track down a ruthless and brilliant games-man, a killer who leaves chess pieces at the site of each murder. These are workable elements for any such novel, yet nothing that new to the market; it's the manner in which James ties them together with larger conspiracy theories and historical mysteries that turns this into a true page-turner. Not only do we care about this killer being stopped, we care about Bowers and his relationships. We care about the future victims. We care about others caught up in the dizzying maze of deception.

So why am I mad? Well, as a published novelist myself, I often wrestle with my own inner editor while reading other novels. This makes it hard to enjoy some of them. In the case of James, I found myself challenged instead to sharpen my craft even more. Not only that, he combines in "The Pawn" some of the elements that it's taken me two or three books to explore--a love of coffee, an eye for chess, and an interest in history.
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55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Pawn, a thriller written by Steven James, is at once a book that you want to stop reading so you don't have nightmares, but one you don't want to put down either.

Thriller readers familiar with James Patterson's "Alex Cross" series will find themselves thinking of Alex Cross and his Washington D.C. home, but Special Agent Patrick Bowers is a strong character in his own domain: North Carolina. Further, his specialty in environmental criminology is apt considering the newsworthiness of environmental issues in the present time.

Further complicating Bowers's work is high powered political figures, such as North Carolina's governors and higher ranking bureau officials, including his supervisor. We hear news stories often where police officials are criticized for not doing their job and then when the story comes out, it turns out their ability to do this work is being blocked by other parties. This is very much the case in this story, leading a real world feel to this work of fiction.

Although there are numerous characters that appear in the story, it isn't a challenge to keep them straight, and some such as Tessa, you can't help but grow attached to. Another testament to the author's abilities, the characters come to life and the reader almost expects to meet them when they go to town.

The author's background in storytelling, in which he received his MA from East Tennessee State University, shows clearly throughout the book, allowing the reader to feel as if they are hearing a personal account of the tale. Further, he uses simple words, such as `pawn' with multiple meanings and to keep the readers thinking. In a manner similar to John Grisham writing about the Delta locations he knows best, Steven James brings North Carolina to life in readers' eyes.

This is the first of a planned trilogy, and I look forward to reading more of Patrick Bowers's cases and Steven James's work.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on September 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
Steven James takes us into the world of FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers in this exceptional psychological thriller. A serial killer is at large in the Appalachian area of North Carolina, and Bowers, known for his expertise in environmental criminology, is called in to help make sense of this baffling case.

The killer has dubbed himself "The Illusionist," thriving on misdirection and confusion to further confound the authorities at every turn. As Bowers and his team search for clues, they realize they are facing a madman who is as cunning as he is evil. As answers are uncovered, more mysteries surface, linking the Illusionist to a charismatic cult leader with ties to the infamous Jonestown cult. Patrick Bowers now faces seemingly insurmountable odds as the case becomes larger and more dangerous than anyone ever anticipated.

Steven James writes at a break-neck pace, effortlessly pulling the reader along on this incredible thrill ride. With the backdrop of the Jonestown disaster, James has added a clever dose of history that brings a sense of relevancy to the story. The plot twists and turns while never hinting at the destination, and the characters are rich and absorbing. Patrick Bowers is an intriguing hero who is extremely brilliant, yet very fallible. While he excels in his professional career, his personal life is in shambles, and his struggles in parenthood are real and pertinent.

While The Pawn holds its own both as mystery and a suspenseful thriller, the strength of the novel is found Patrick Bowers' spiritual journey. As Bowers is drawn closer to danger, he finds that he must also face his difficult past and come to grips with some hard, yet hopeful truths about life and death. In the end, James leaves us enough to satisfy and whets our appetite for more.
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