Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Pawn by Steven James

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Onyx; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451412796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451412799

Coffee connoisseur and FBI agent Patrick Bowers' specialty is environmental criminology.  That means he attempts to track lawbreakers by analyzing the significance of the time and place at which the crime occurred.  Not surprisingly he meets up with some skepticism from his peers.  When young women start showing up murdered near Asheville, N.C., he is called in to assist local law enforcement.  The killer leaves a yellow ribbon in his victim's hair and a chess piece somewhere at each crime scene. Patrick begins to suspect that the Governor of North Carolina may be somehow connected to the crimes and that there is a link to the Jonestown cult.  As if things weren't already complicated enough, Patrick's supervising agent is a woman who harbors resentment toward him because of a prior incident in the Bureau.  Combine a difficult case and a hateful supervisor with a surly teen-age step-daughter, and you have a very entertaining and suspenseful read.  Patrick is struggling with the recent death of his wife and is trying to connect with her daughter, which is being made difficult by her anger and resentment.  She's one of those kids you just love to hate.  When threats are made against her by the killer, Patrick is desperate to keep her safe.   

I read that The Pawn is the first in a planned trilogy by James.  But as I browsed Amazon I noticed there are four Patrick Bowers novels now so he must be popular among readers.   After reading this first installment, I'm looking forward to reading the others.  As I read this book I often thought that I was as entertained by Patrick as I am by Alex Cross in the novels written by James Patterson or by Lucas Davenport in the Prey series by John Sandford.  Steven James is now on my list of favorite authors.  

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