Wasn't the Patrick Bowers's files series supposed to end with Checkmate?
Steven James returns to his famous character with this new prequel-sequel. It's a prequel to The Pawn but a sequel to Opening Moves. At first, I wondered why we're going back? The story's been told. Is Steven James simply turning into Lee Child? Is Patrick Bowers his version of Jack Reacher?
Then there's the plot: this time we're dealing with child abduction and abuse. Not the typical thing anyone enjoys reading. James even puts a disclaimer at the beginning of the book explaining why he wrote this story and pointing readers in the direction of an organization that works to stop abduction and abuse.
But this was a BIG warning flag for me. I almost didn't want to read this book. I have been uneasy with the number of times James includes harm to children in his latest books. It's almost a theme recently.
In the Jevin Banks books, it starts with a scene of child-drowning. In the Blur Trilogy's second book, something horrific happens to a child in a barn and some machinery. (It all happens out of sight) And now we have this entire book about it. I was extremely uneasy with this trajectory.
Having said that, there is nothing graphic in these books. The details are spared. But even with the details left out, the reader has already formed the horror in their imaginations.
I understand a wanting to illuminate the realities to people. But, I have to say, if the next Steven James book includes harm to a child, I will never read another James book.
Now like every other Patrick Bowers story, James is phenomenal. The character development and plot run seamless throughout. You will never get bogged down with exposition or feel the characters are just cliched plugins.
I was surprised with the ending as I typically am in a Steven James book. The identity of the villainous Pied Piper was safely tucked away until the reveal.
It's another well thought-out and paced book. It's typical James. But it was also almost too much for me to continue.
Until the next book...