Signet Select; Published by the Penguin Group
If you want thrills, horror, philosophy, just a dab of humor now and then, teen angst, grown-up angst, professionalism, genius, a smidgen of spirituality, and killer killers, you need to start with The Pawn and read all the way through to The King by Steven James. With intricate and complex storylines, this Master Storyteller weaves in the successes of horribly evil characters and the sometimes failures of all types of law enforcement to stop them. Given their advantages in committing heinous crimes when their intellect is way above average, Patrick Bowers and his associates use every method available to fend off future attacks and capture these human monsters.
About these killers . . . Richard Basque is out of prison on a technicality, and there's nothing he likes better than kidnapping women and eating some of their organs, preferably before he kills them. He relishes the "hunt" and thrives on confounding Patrick Bowers. He's left a bloody body trail, but those murders aren't connecting until one day after a picnic with Patrick and his step-daughter Tessa, Patrick's Special Agent FBI profiler fiancée Lien-hua Jiang returns to her car to find a huge surprise as Patrick and Tessa depart from the park.
In the meantime the Director of the FBI's (Margaret Wellington) brother has committed suicide, and she wants Patrick to figure out why. His history with Margaret is checkered and uncomfortable at best, but Patrick assures her he will do everything he can to find anything that might've been missed. And of course he does. Which brings back another escaped psychopath from The Queen, the self-nicknamed Valkyrie who is really the alter-ego of Alexei Chekov.
The King, like every book in the Patrick Bowers Series, is primarily told from Patrick's POV, but Steven takes us down the dark roads of his venemous criminals' thoughts. The strange conclusions of his killers - although not off base for self-evaluations - remind us of how evil begins within our nature. Could we become them if we allowed ourselves to delve into our true instincts and abandon personal restrictions?
Tessa's emotional struggles are not atypical of maturing teens, but her high intellect often provides too much stimuli, while coming in handy other times, seducing her away from the desire to pursue her deceased mother's wish for Tessa. Losing her mother pre-empted serious belief in any deity and destroyed and toppled a timid faith. Will Tessa overcome her pain to find true relief from all that she's taken on and assumed about herself and the world around her?
Peripheral characters become essential and a vital part of each story, aiding the big picture of crimes and relationships. Always done well, the reader is filled in at so many levels with important, fascinating, and meaningful data. (Steven does manage to plug his new series by making a character reference the amazing magician "Jevin Banks" from Placebo.)
The brilliance of the Patrick Bowers Series lies in Steven's ability to thread complex plot details efficiently throughout the stories, braiding them together and binding them with that small splayed tail at the end of each book which assures us that as much as we need the pursuits of these crazy men and women to end, as a reader we're amped up to find out how in the world Patrick and his associates will be allowed to chase them down and eliminate them. We yearn for resolution, face our need for justice, and actually hope that "justice" allows them to be exterminated. It's in our nature after all.
Father, you've given Steven incredible talent and he's following his gift. Please help him to continue down the path you've designed just for him. Bless him for all things he does to honor you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.