Thursday, July 27, 2017

Every Deadly Kiss - Steven James

Every Deadly Kiss
The Bowers Files
Steven James


Full disclosure:  this is the first installment of The Bowers Files that I have read.  Serious question:  how have I missed this series until now??

Patrick Bowers is an agent for the FBI.  He’s a specialist in the cutting-edge field of geoprofiling in serial cases.   He assesses a crime scene based on factors like timing of offenses, and the environments of crime scenes.  This specialty keeps him in demand all over the U.S.  In Detroit, the FBI is investigating four murders. Each of the victims is a different age, race, sex and from different walks of life.  In each case, a letter was carved into the victim’s forehead; each body was found in an abandoned house; and, most tellingly, each body was discovered after an anonymous tip, pointing the police in the right direction.  Clearly, someone is trying to make a statement. 

While in Detroit, Patrick will be partnered with FBI agent Sharyn Weist.  The two went through the FBI academy together, and parted just before graduation.  It’s been nearly eight years since they’ve seen each other.  Sharyn is divorced with a child.  Patrick is involved with a woman who has a teenaged daughter.  After an awkward moment or two, working together seems natural.  What neither one of them knows is that there’s a stalker on the prowl.  He’s dangerous, intent on tracking his target, and will not hesitate to kill to find his target.  Soon enough, Sharyn is caught up in his search.

In another part of the country, a terrorist plot is unfolding.  This plot has been meticulously planned over a span of years.  There is a sort of suicide bomber on his way to Detroit.  This bomber isn’t wearing explosives strapped to his chest, but he is carrying a bioweapon that will kill millions.  And he’s carrying it in his own bloodstream.  The carrier is symptom-free for several days while he moves around in population centers.  The first symptoms look like the flu; by the time anyone realizes that there’s a deadly disease spreading, it will be too late.  One of the men involved in this plot – a fixer of sorts – may be having second thoughts about the scope of suffering that’s coming, and may take steps to try to avert the outbreak.

The way the author manages to bring these seemingly disparate plotlines is surprising and nearly seamless.  Watching the FBI agents conduct the investigation is fascinating, especially with the addition of the ‘geoprofiling,’ This specialty was unfamiliar to me, but it was clearly explained, and it was an interesting new way to approach an investigation.  Instead of looking for similarities to establish motive, Patrick looks for differences. The point-of-view does shift from investigator to terrorist to fixer to killer, but each shift is in its own chapter, so it’s quite easy to follow.  In fact, it gives a fuller understanding of everyone’s thoughts and motives.  Motives that, in this day and age, seem frighteningly realistic.

I made the silly mistake of reading the first chapter late in the evening.  I was instantly hooked.  I read far too late, looking for that elusive “good stopping place.”  In this novel, there just isn’t one.  When you’re ready to start this thrill-ride of a novel, make sure you’re in a comfy chair with a good chunk of time ahead of you.  Then do the same thing every time you sit down with this book!  My only real regret is that I’m only now discovering this author.  I’ll be looking for previous books in this series.  If you like thrillers, this one comes highly recommended.

Rating: 8
July 2017

ISBN# 978-1-101-99157-2  (paperback)


At 7:25 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

An absolutely amazing story, grabbing the reader from the first lines and making him part of yet another exciting story in Patrick Bowers live. Must read if you like criminal stories with surprising twists and turns

At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as I love Steven James and the Patrick Bowers series, this one just never hit its stride. The timeframe didn't work (going back to the "early" years, but including cell phone technology...), the relationship struggles between Patrick and Christie seemed contrived (more or less just there to have another story arc), and the backdrop, which James tried to explain and describe, was confusing and a bit too neat of a fit for the bad guys.

One thing that surprised me was James' departure from clean language. Although his material is always gritty, he has handled it in the past with elan. His reason to depart from that is unclear, and in my opinion unnecessary as it detracted from, rather than added to, the story itself.

I pre-order all of James' books, and will continue to do so, but cannot recommend this one. It seems James learned from the Jevin Banks series and left that one behind, and likewise I'm confident his next book will more than make up for this one.

My advice to Mr. James, worthless though it is coming from nothing more than a reader looking for a great read--stay true to your character and your committment to tell a compelling story.


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