On the plus side, this is an entertaining listen that will keep you engaged. If you overlook a few plot gimmicks, you..Show More » will probably enjoy this tale. I did and will listen to more of Steven James books.
James is particularly deft in handling the "Christian inspirational" themes. These wouldn't deter me even if they were handled more forcefully; I enjoyed the Left Behind series which IS much more direct. James, though, uses a relatively light touch that works well and naturally for this story ~ so if this sort of thing gives you pause, there is no need to fear overt moralizing or calls to conversion. This is not that kind of book.
What you will find are good, but flawed, good guys ~ very bad, bad guys ~ focus on an interesting criminological technique ~ and a creative, engaging plot.
Unfortunately, that plot is unnecessarily, almost distracting, complex. Narrator Richard Ferrone, ordinarily one of the best, stumbles a bit here, failing to differentiate voices sufficiently to render the multiple villains easily identifiable.
The plot is also, sometimes, ridiculously contrived. An example: our protagonist, FBI special agent Patrick Bowers, is something of a wunderkind in tracking serial killers. He is in the midst of a search for such a villain who tortures and kills young women; many of them. On a personal level, our hero is also having trouble bonding with his new step-daughter. So instead of planning to spend quality time with her following his violent man hunt, he insists the FBI fly the 17-year-old in to see him, right in the middle of the serial killers' hunting ground. Oh, I wonder what might happen there! (sarcasm).
Alas, James resorts to this sort of plot contrivance several times. It detracts from the story and renders the characters and the tale less believable. For maximum enjoyment, prepare yourself to overlook this sort of thing.
Also, don't expect too much in the way of character development. It is all but absent, except in the main protagonist, where it is sudden and not especially well developed.
And lastly, prepare yourself for moments of tortured, overworked prose. An example: Bowers, preparing to see his step-daughter, observes that he is off "to see this raven, left on my doorstep, by this thing we call life."
All in all, enjoyable but flawed. There are probably better places to spend a credit (for mysteries/suspense/thrillers, first try Lee Child, Thomas Harris, Michael Connelly, Stieg Larsson, Tess Gerritsen, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, Vince Flynn, John Sandford, Sandra Brown, David Baldacci, Jonathan Kellerman, you get the idea).
If you have already mined these writers, then maybe it's worth giving Steven James a try. I did and am preparing to sample the second in this series, fingers crossed that story-telling improves as the series grows. After all, in one of James' more overt inspirational observations, "Hope is evidence of God."
Deep and intriguing, the series really starts here
With this 4th book in the series, the author has really hit his stride. The characters are well developed, and the dialogue is so realistic and natur..Show More »al, it's amazing. The book is not a fast paced thrill ride, but an evenly paced story with plenty of twists and surprises. Additionally, there are some aspects of this character and story that offer a unique perspective on detective stories. It's not just the same old stuff you read over and over in other novels. With the first three books, there were some aspects that broke the spell, taking you out of the story, maybe to roll your eyes. But with this story, he's got it together. I stumbled upon this series when looking for Richard Ferrrone books, after exhausting the supply of Sanford books, and it's a great find ... similar to Sanford in many ways too. I've read hundreds of thrillers, and this author is truly one of the very best.
The first thing that bothered me was that the author spent way too much time reviewing things that happened in previous books. There are some really ..Show More »neat characters and happenings in this book to make it worthwhile, but it's not a very tidy work. The enigmatic assassin Alexei and his bone gun were the best part. James always adds a dialogue about a moral issue in each of his books, using Tessa as the devil's advocate. This one was about forgiveness, and there was a little too much focus on it, distracting from the story.
I'm still trying to figure author Steven James out, what his approach to the Patrick Bowers series really is. I read an interview he did where he says..Show More » there is good and evil in the world and he doesn't want to sugarcoat either side so to speak. So he has really gruesome, violent crimes and bad guys while on the good side he thinks good thoughts and tries to do good deeds for those in his live and those he's trying to protect from evil. I still can't believe an FBI agent would involve his family the way he does. This seems to me to be the hardest part to understand regarding the plots. His books can stand alone just on the psycho killer aspect but he wants to add more. I will say I think this may be the best of the Bowers series.
In this book the author takes us back in time to where he has just met his new girlfriend and her daughter who play prominent roles in the series going forward. The world of online child porn is explored in this story in a variety of its manifestations. You could almost look at this book as a primer on the subject if you have little experience with it. But the author crafts a good story where Agent Bowers is trying to crack this online ring against seemingly impossible odds. It is very easy to become and stay engrossed with this book.