Reviewed by Dale Lewis
The Queen by Steven James
"James is a master storyteller who writes pulse-pounding suspense!"
When called away from an ongoing
case to investigate a double homicide of a mother & daughter in an isolated northern Wisconsin town, FBI
Special Agent Patrick Bowers reluctantly answers the call. While putting
the random puzzle pieces and players together, he uncovers a high-tech
conspiracy that targets present-day tensions in the Middle East. How does
a Russian assassin’s connection with a radical eco-terrorist group
fit into the bigger picture? The deeper truths and lies regarding serial-killer
Richard Basque, Patrick's old nemesis, will also be revealed.
The cast of players, Patrick, Lien-Hua, Tessa and others return from James previous novels, although this can be read as a stand-alone title. The first person narrative delves into case history throughout this new storyline keeping the reader up-to-date on the life and times of Patrick Bowers. The frozen landscape becomes an active, inanimate character often thwarting the mission’s success.
Agent Bowers’ encounters with Alexi Chechov, the three-dimensional villain amps up the classic cat-and-mouse game where each of them pits intelligence against determination and resources against time. Alexi is both empathic and evil, a hero and a traitor.
Steven James has penned an intricate tapestry of interrelationships and used it to solidify multiple storylines. Bowers is highly intelligent and determined to say the least. His abbreviated stay in the hospital proves the latter.
The introduction into the story of Patrick’s brother, Sean, and his wife, Amber, adds insight to the family dynamic and brings to light the redemption needed for all involved.
The Queen is distraction layered within distraction, hidden agendas piling up on top of deceitful dialogue pushed against a trail of leads and dead-ends. As a reader you’ll find it utterly fruitless to make attempts to predict what is going to happen. In a James novel, there will definitely be some twist or turn or a series of bumps as you turn each page.
In The Queen, past meets the present, and the present directs the future. The moments of forgiveness are real but do not come without a cost: sometimes a very heavy one.
Reading 517 pages is a “substantial” amount to navigate through--especially with multiple viewpoints and engaging plot threads. For those who find themselves struggling early on, don't jump ship. James is a master storyteller who writes pulse-pounding suspense!