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Monday, September 12, 2011

Therapeutic Review and Giveaway of Stephen James' The Queen

Stephen James has become one of those authors for me that I know I'll pick up whatever his latest book is. I had the pleasure of being a reviewer for his latest, The Queen, and once again, he exceeded even my highest expectations.

Here's a blurb of the book from Stephen's website:

 While investigating a mysterious double homicide in an isolated northern Wisconsin town, FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers uncovers a high-tech conspiracy that ties together long-buried Cold War secrets with present-day tensions in the Middle East. Amid the hazardous winter weather and harsh landscape, Bowers must piece together the puzzle before it’s too late.

In his most explosive thriller yet, bestselling author Steven James delivers a pulse-pounding, multi-layered storytelling tour-de-force that will keep you guessing.

This book is the 5th in a series that all share similar chess piece names: The Pawn, The Rook, The Knight and The Bishop. However, it can be read as a stand-alone novel. Special Agent Patrick Bowers is definitely an alpha hero, but he's made very three dimensional by James' expert use of dominance and submission, or what James' calls "variable status" in his article that I featured here.

Patrick is this uber-capable agent in the field, but he, ah, struggles to maintain the upper hand in his romantic interactions and verbal sparring matches with his teenage step-daughter. It's endearing to read, and makes me want to meet this character....possibly get him on my couch, as I think it would benefit him. 

But above all, James writes the best villains, hands down. Anytime I can actually feel sympathy for a villain, I know that an author has taken to heart the fact that people aren't all bad or all good. They have strengths and weaknesses...this is true to life. The Queen is like a study in character development for villains.

Alexei Chekov is one of my favorite ones to date. Not only does he have the coolest and most unusual "weapon" ever--seriously, how did James think up a bone gun? I had to google that and read up on it--he's also got one killer of an ethical code and even a moral conscious.

But he's a trained killer, a hired assassin! But a refusal to harm women and children, an indignant reaction to being framed for a murder of the lesser sex, a propensity to pay for medical bills of individuals he's taken out with the bone gun, a moment of respect and heroic action to save the life of a man who put his own life on the line to save someone Alexei had to dispose of. Showing us the very human side of this villain is simply genius. I found myself dreading what was going to happen to him by the end of the book simply because I came to like the guy.

You'll have to read it to find out what happens to Alexei and Patrick. You will not be disappointed! One lucky commenter below will receive my review copy of the book. Since I like to give books as a way to thank my readership, if you aren't already "following" this blog, please do so! Leave your comment with your email address and I'll draw a winner on Sunday!

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


Anonymous said...

This sounds like an interesting series. I can't say that I've read anything by Steven James, but the book sounds interesting.

As the titles of the books in the series are all names of chess pieces, I'm assuming that each cover features that particular chess piece. I'll have to find out for sure when I look up Steven James books.

Thanks for sharing about this book and the series.


Kathryn Barker said...

I'm not familiar with Steven James either, but thanks for introducing him. It does seem that many villains are not all bad....

I look forward to reading all the books.

karenk said...

A great posting...I haven't read any of his work (yet)...Thanks for the chance to read this novel :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Patricia Bradley said...

I am a great fan of Steven James. I've read the Pawn, the Rook and the Knight. When I finished the Knight, I wanted the next one soooo bad that when I got it, I decided to wait until the Queen came out so I when I read the Knight I wouldn't have to wait a whole year! Hope I win it!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Sounds exciting!


Erynn said...

Ack! I love, love, love Steven James. I admit I skimmed your analysis of The Queen, because I don't want any spoilers. I've been waiting so long, and our library refuses to carry his books. I own all the others--they were my first purchases when I got a Nook for my birthday. Can't wait to add this one to my collection.
Patrick's relationship with Tessa is my favorite. I heard talk that there might be a tv show based on the books. I really hope it happens.

Brenda S. Anderson said...

I already have the book, so don't enter me, but I wanted to reiterate that Steven James is one of the best storytellers out there, in any market. His villains are truly complex and his stories are extremely intelligent. I'd recommend his books to anyone who enjoys a challenging mystery.

Ralene said...

Sounds like my kind of book! I've heard a lot about Steven James and would love an opportunity to check out his book!

Anonymous said...

This sounds great.

briannasoloski at gmail dot com

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

The giveaway is now closed. Ann Lee Miller is the winner!

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Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.