Reviewed by Dale Lewis
Opening Moves by Steven James
Share on Facebook
"[James] is a consummate storyteller weaving plot, principals and power."
It’s 1997. The
police believe there is a Jeffrey Dalmer copycat roaming the streets
Wisconsin. Deep down, a young Patrick
Bowers believes this is much more than posthumous idol worship of an infamous
cannibal. In Opening Moves, the prequel to the five titles in the Patrick
Bowers Files, homicide detective Bowers finds himself in the middle of
a morbid collection
of extreme kidnappings and sadistic mutilations.
With the help of the investigative team, Bowers soon discovers that some of the most notorious and blatant killers in our nation’s history are referenced resources in these kidnappings. The investigation quickly succumbs into a recurring nightmare of conniving manipulation and chilling terror. Coupled with world renowned criminologist, Dr. Calvin Werjonic, (who’s on the cutting edge of groundbreaking investigative techniques), Bowers comes face-to-face with a blood-thirsty, fame-seeking maniac.
A few of the crimes mentioned in Opening Moves actually occurred in real life. This alone adds to the foundational macabre overtones of the storyline. The emergence of three killers intensifies the mystery and suspense while creating multiple tangents within the main storyline. The interconnection between characters is astounding on both the criminal and law enforcement levels.
One of the highlights for me was experiencing the unity of a diverse team working towards a common purpose--where no rock is left unturned and no lead neglected. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet Patrick Bowers (pre-FBI days) in the manner he’s portrayed.
James is clear and crisp in his descriptive details, both in locale and characters. The created dialogue is superbly realistic. He is a consummate storyteller weaving plot, principals and power.
The internal struggle to find redemption and peace in one killer’s mind coupled with Bowers assertion that we are all capable of darkness and unimaginable sin is captivating. Reading Opening Moves is not a mindless activity – it will stir issues within that we easily ignore or are hardened towards.
While Opening Moves does contain pure evil (isn’t that a misnomer?), James doesn't glamorize it or position a lingering spotlight on the shock factor. He addresses the tension he experiences in the foreword. In Bowers’ own words, “I took a moment to collect myself, to try filtering out the disgust. Finally, I opened my eyes, but the disquieting residue of anger and nausea hadn’t gone away.”
My only “frustration” with reading this Steven James novel is its length. The beginning, middle and end consume a lot of copy and pages. It’s a tad disheartening when you’re at page 280 (chapter 52) of the story and you still have another 48 chapters to go. But then again, I don’t know what I would edit out to shorten it.
The next Patrick Bowers title is The King set to release in July 2013!