Original Books

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Knight by Steven James

Steven James started out the Patrick Bowers files strongly with an abnormally good writing style for a rookie and with excellent research. Combine that with an Elite plot, and this author is unstoppable.

As Patrick Bowers prepares to testify at the case of his nemesis, Richard Basque, concerning Richard's actions in an abandoned slaughterhouse, he is still haunted by the ever-elusive Sebastian Taylor. But when he receives news of the untimely death of Taylor, Bowers is relieved.

But not for long, for questions of who killed him and how began to form in his mind. The deeper he and his team go with the investigation, the more complicated and powerful the killer seems. The killer is telling them a story, but Bowers and his team have to figure it out in time-or someone important dies.

Tessa, Pat's step-daughter, discovers her mother's diary in a box and begins to read it. The more she reads, the more she discovers about her real father.

Now when you look at my summary above, you wonder why in the world I would like a plot like that. Doesn't it go against everything I stand for in suspense?

Not when you combine that plot idea with a superb writing style, thorough research, imperfect characters, and an unpredictable end. The four components for a good suspense plot.

First, the story the killer is telling is a real, very obscure book that James dug up out of the past. How he bases the killer's patterns on the book is very professionally done and excellently researched. The fact that he even came up with this idea shows deep seated creativity.

Second, the characters he introduced in The Pawn and The Rook are better in the The Knight because they have developed personality and they remain to be imperfect. A character like Bowers is not easy to make because he can easily become perfect. A character like Tessa is not easy to make because she can easily become stereotypical.

Third, who the killer is and what his purpose is was a surprise to me. James has finally eliminated his typical showdown pattern. He made the showdown unique and unpredictable.

What James has done with The Knight has taken the series to a whole new level. The cutoff end makes the reader want to read more. The Bowers Files has become an epic, and I'm excited to see the end.

Sadly, however, the killer's stereotypical character keeps the book from being five stars. Few authors have captured the elusive art of making the villain, though he commits monstrous deeds, into a believable human character. Nevertheless, Steven James has made a name for himself in my book because he isn't like all the other mindless suspense authors on the market. He thinks and so he does. I can't wait to see what he gives us next.

4.5 stars

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