Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review of Steven James's The Queen

The Queen, by Steven James
2011. Revell

A Patrick Bowers thriller

It’s Wisconsin. It’s Winter. It’s a gruesome double-triple-quintuple? homicide spread over two cases near each other. Patrick Bowers is home, but it’s not for any sweet family reunion.

The fifth entry into the Patrick Bowers, FBI geospatial profiler and coffee snob, case files is a twist-your-guts ride.

You have to discover what a person regrets the most in order to understand him, Bowers’ love interest and FBI profiler, Lien-hua, says. This book is full of regret, and some redemption, as Patrick seeks to understand, forgive, and be forgiven of the circumstances that caused the rift between him and his brother, Sean. Patrick’s step-daughter deals with the regret of the circumstances that led her to kill in self-defense in the previous case. The murderer deals with the regret of…well, you’ll just have to read the book.

James deviates a bit from his previous stories in that the bad guys are identified right away in The Queen, instead of making us wait to figure out what’s happening and why. Although there’s a pretty good twist, it’s still not a huge stretch to follow Patrick’s winding path to get to the bottom of things. And this is where I have to say the clunkiness of this novel tends to get in the way of the timeline and the immediate need to solve the murders. The initial murder thread trails off; the secondary case peters out until it comes back to smack the reader in the face, and by then I had nearly forgotten about it. The devastation of the murders that end up being the major plot of the story keep us all busy, in between worrying over Patrick’s headstrong teenaged step-daughter’s jaunt through a blizzard, his sister-in-law’s fragility, the growing body count, and whether the intimate details of the weapons being used or the minute description of the interior of the ELF station really has anything to do with the outcome. I put this book down several times, despite the fact that I love the first novels and will read the rest of them; despite the fact that I went to the nearby University just about the time the Navy station set up to use Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radio waves to signal submarines was encountering the worst protests; and despite the fact that I was pretty sure I had the real murderer pegged (I was wrong).

Patrick Bowers is a great character, the adversary in The Queen was daunting, the plot was a little windy but it worked, and the end was…intriguing. James manages to draw in several former cases to twine this story and I look forward to the next installment.

“Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, Lisa. My husband has all the Stephen James books, including The Queen. I've been planning on starting this series.