Friday, August 16, 2013

The Knight by Steven James

           I took a break from reading fantasy so I could continue one of my favorite mystery series. The Knight is the third book in the Bowers Files by Steven James. (And if you ever have a chance to hear him speak, he's great.)

           I could give you a summery. I realize that I don't often do that. But since I dislike giving too much away because suspense is one of my favorite elements of reading, I'll just say that it's a psychological thriller. So it's filled with very unusual murders, and it makes you think. I love books that make you think. And it's high-energy. Don't forget that.

           "Pat, since Friday you were nearly burned alive, bitten by a rattlesnake, sealed in a mine, blown up, and crushed by a boulder."

           Let me start out by saying, the POV was excellent! It was a little shaky in the first book, The Pawn, because when the author would change to a woman's POV you could still kind of tell it was written by a guy. In The Rook, the POV improved, and now it's amazing how well each chapter or scene is distinctly one person's thoughts alone. You get to know the characters well and they each have their own distinct voice.

           Also even though the POV level is really deep, James isn't afraid to have many POV characters. I like that. The protagonist is spotlighted with first person and the other characters have third person. I could go without the italics because basically it's all internal thought in a way, but that's okay. Best POV I've read in a while!

           Something is always going on. The tension never stops. It also makes you think and not just about the mystery itself, but about life. Patrick Bowers, the main character, deals with a lot of large questions. What is more important: the truth or justice? He also continues to deal with other questions he wrestled with in the previous books, like the right and wrong way to carry out justice, and what's the difference between ordinary people and the criminals, who happen to have ordinary lives too? That last one always has me thinking long and hard. What causes people to do something so unfeeling like murder and then turn into monsters? And how do you react to that without becoming like them?

           It was also hilarious.
J The conversations between Patrick and his step-daughter. Priceless. The romance was more or less on the funny side too.

           Okay, now for the characters.
J Who, or course, were amazing. (no, I'm not telling you the mystery half. You must find out for yourself.)

           Ralph is one of Patrick's co-workers and close friends. Their conversations outside of FBI talk are hilarious. They're really kind of like brothers. Both Ralph and Patrick are smart and strong. But when they're together, you always see Pat as the brains and Ralph as the brawn. They make a good team. I was kind of sad that Ralph wasn't in this book as much as he was in the others, but that's okay.
           I folded my arms. "I'm just eating a meal in her general vicinity."
           "Sure. Gotcha."

           Cheyenne is also a co-worker. . . and a love interest. I have mixed thoughts on her. The best part: Wow, can she shoot a gun! And ride a horse. She's versatile, confidant, compassionate, and she has a great sense of humor. But maybe I’m a little old-fashion like Bowers, the guy is supposed to ask the girl out. Right? She just seems to be a little too strong in ways to me. If that makes any sense.

           Amy Lynn Greer. She's a newspaper reporter. Need I say more? She's determined and focused. And she has one goal: herself. Ugh, that lady drove me crazy! She might as well have been a mini-villain in her own little world.

           The villain is, wow. If you ever need tips on how to make unfeeling, creepy villains, read Steven James' books. He always has the best villains. I mean, the best worst villains. Uh. . . oh, never mind. . . Giovanni is my favorite out of all of them. He's so unfeeling. How do you get like that? Forget that; I don't really want to know. But he was so brilliant too. And the whole fact that –spoiler- he considered himself a storyteller and based his crimes off the Decameron, was so intrigue and new. Just amazing -end spoiler. He's very composed and meticulous. Every detail is so well thought out and preplanned. He's scary. I know that's putting too simply, but it's the plain truth.

           Let me divert here on the note of the villain. I love how the author writes the mystery itself. He keeps you guessing at who the killer is. All the time. I love to try to figure it out (duh, Ashley, that's what you're supposed to do). He always sets it up where even at the end there's still a few people who could possibly be the killer and but he doesn't reveal it until the end. And more than likely you've guessed correctly halfway through the book, but he throws more possibilities at you and so you forget about that person. Like he said in one of his seminars once, the ending is always "unpredictable yet inevitable." Amazing, people. You should read the book.

           Back to the characters.

           "You listen to death metal and sleep with a teddy bear."

           Tessa, Bower's step-daughter, is one of my favorites. She's a typical teen,  sort of. She wears black, enjoys reading Poe, and edits her classmates' essays for a small fee, of course. And yet, she's always squeamish around blood and, well, anything that has to do with her dad's work. Even though she always wants to know what he's doing.  She's so intelligent. I love her humor. And her winsome incongruities.

           Special Agent Patrick Bowers is my favorite of them all. He's intelligent. He has a strong sense of justice. But he's also very honest. He just can't lie, even if he tries. He can think in stressful situations and always seems to push his limit of endurance.

           What I really like though is Patrick and Tessa together. With his dry sarcasm and her ironic, caustic humor, there's never a dull moment. Or a want of tension. They're one of the best father/daughter characters. They never fail to have some ongoing dispute, but when it really matters, they'll remind each other that they always love the other.  
           I stopped and stared at the door. "It's cool that I was almost burned alive?"
           "That you were
almost burned alive." The door opened a crack, and her head appeared. "If you had been, it would have totally sucked."
           Oh. Well in that case.


  1. I have a friend who read these books and liked all of the twists in them and how they kept her on her toes. I've been debating about reading them myself, I might have to do the first one.

    1. Yes! You must!
      Ahem, I mean. Yeah, they're amazing. You should really give them a try. Really, really should. :) Just be prepared to be kept up all night.


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