Christian fiction, Christian suspense

Book & Cover Review of "The Queen" by Steven James

 Book Review

FBI Special Agent, Patrick Bowers is back in another non-stop action suspense novel The Queen. Bestselling author Steven James managed to keep me up all night reading once again. Though this book is 516 pages long it won’t feel like it because you won’t be able to put it down.

The personal and professional life of the main character get very complicated as he tries to track down a violent serial killer in northern Wisconsin. Each of Steven’s books in this series also tackles a larger moral issue. In this book he tackles one so complicated that at one point he is sort of working ‘with’ the killer … sort of. You’ll have to read it to find out why and how!

I found this novel to be less graphic than the previous one, but still involving the major issues of murder, motive and morals in a very real way that will touch the reader. As a woman I still enjoyed this novel, but I do feel that men would enjoy it equally if not more.

Book Cover Review

Each of the covers in the Patrick Bowers Thriller series features a chess piece. In this cover the Queen piece has been left discarded in the snow – which is very fitting for this novel because most of it occurs during a terrible storm deep in Wisconsin. The hint of frozen tree limbs at the edges of the cover help to convey the sense of deep cold and isolation that is prevalent in this book.

The large, embossed title matches well with the suspense style of cover. Especially given that this is the fifth book of the series the title will likely be as recognizable as the author by readers on the hunt for the next book.

The publisher has also smartly included the fact that the author is a best seller right under the author’s name – and included the title of the first book of the series. With any luck bookstore browsers will then locate the first book and ‘have’ to read the entire series from start to finish. I additionally feel that the quote from an actual retired FBI agent is a smart idea. It suggests that Steven James has done his homework and created a very ‘real’ story line that even a real FBI agent would call it “a masterpiece”.

The book cover appears simple at first glance but is very calculated and well-designed once you analyze all the pieces. Well done!

* This book was received by the publisher for review. An interview with the author can be found at the following link

Christian fiction, Christian suspense

Book & Cover Review of "The Bishop: a Patrick Bowers Thriller" by Steven James

The Bishop (The Patrick Bowers Files, Book 4)
Book Review
The Bishop (The Patrick Bowers Files, Book 4) revolves around FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers, his step daughter Tessa or ‘Raven’, and how their lives are impacted by the newest case he has been assigned … as well as their own personal complex life situations. This suspense novel is the 4th in a series surrounding Agent Bowers, and is part of an 8 book series named after a chess theme (it was preceded by the publishing of The Pawn, The Rook, and The Knight.)

During his launch party hosted earlier this week, author Steven James stated “When I approach a new book I always let a deep moral question drive the story forward. For example, in The Bishop, the question was ‘What makes humans different from animals?’ It led me to some surprising conclusions. I don’t set out to teach a lesson but to bring up issues and questions about the human condition that matter. I do learn as I write and it give ms a good place to sort through what I believe.”

 In The Bishop, this moral question is wrapped up in the chase of two very strong and complex villains who are ‘scary good’ at their own form of detached and evil game play. Additionally, the book covers the topics of teen angst, stepfather/stepdaughter relationships, job tensions, and multiple love interests.

As I read the book I kept asking myself … if you were surrounded by death and murder in your work life and your personal life were also filled with more than the average amount of complex situations, how would you cope with the stress? A great read, and very hard to put down!  I have not yet read the first three books in this series and found that I was able to enjoy this book as a stand alone read.  I also feel that the book would appeal to both male and female readers who love suspense.

Book Cover Review
This fourth book features the same blocky embossed text that is typical of suspense/thriller novels in both the ABA and CBA markets.  The dark background allows the bright white and yellow titles to stand out in an eye-catching combination. The damaged Bishop chess piece is mysterious and alludes to a sinister game being played. The dark earth, half-buried skull and purple fog-laden tree trunks match up well with one of the most memorable scenes in this novel. This cover is aptly dark and sinister, and is paired well with writing that is equally intense and hard to put down. The cover will appeal to anyone who likes to read suspense and/or murder mysteries – whether male or female.

* This book was provided to me by the publisher, Revell Publishing, for review.

Christian fiction, Christian suspense

Book & Cover Review of "Beguiled" by Deeanne Gist, J. Mark Bertrand

Who is framing the dogwalker in historical Charleston, South Carolina’s most elite neighborhood?

 Book Review

This was my first opportunity to read a novel with input from author Mark Bertrand, but I am very familiar with Deanne Gist’s historical romance novels.  The contemporary setting is well-done, yet Deeanne has still been able to interweave bit’s of Charleston’s history into the family background of the heroine dog walker and her clients. This book leaves you wondering, not only who is doing the crimes, but just who is stalking the dog walker from the very first chapter.  I will say that I did have an inkling early on which person it was going to be, but several red herrings were thrown in along the way to make it possible to be wrong …

This book is a great easy read, a page-turner in fact – but not deeply spiritual.  A spiritual element is interwoven, but it is done in a fashion that even those who aren’t very spiritual, or who haven’t often attended a church, could relate to the inner faith struggles of the characters. For this reason, I would say older teens and adults would find this book an interesting read.  There is a romantic element to the story, but it is handled in such a way that I think even boys/men would enjoy this novel – unlike some romance novels that more obviously target a female audience.

This novel is a great easy-to-read suspense novel that will help you get lost into someone else’s life struggles – but will not overly make you reflect on your own spirituality. I found it a great bed-time novel – leaving me wondering about plot twists, instead of my to do list as I turned off the lights for the night. 

Book Cover Review

 The red ornately-fringed curtain and the gilded door frame on the front cover help to establish a feeling of oppulance and old-world charm – very fitting for this novel, which is set in a historical district full of wealthy families. I also like that they have chosen to give the woman pictured the same hair-style described in the novel.  What I do question is the outfit she is wearing?  It might have fit the book better to have her wearing something she actually would have walked dogs in?  Instead of the dog walker she looks more like the home’s owner.

I do like that they used a light colored outfit so that more attention was drawn to her surroundings, but question the style of the outfit itself.  I’m remembering her wearing a lot of outdoorsy clothing and ear buds?  Perhaps she might also have a leash in her hands, or be holding a smaller dog?  This cover will appeal to Deeanne’s romance fans, but if they wanted to grow into a new contemporary suspense audience they might have been better served to show her wearing cut-offs, t-shirt and ear buds with one of the dogs somehow?

Additionally, on the back cover is a beautiful close up of a key.  Although I personally love old keys, and that element does reflect the historical district aspect of the novel – to better portray the suspense and fear surrounding the neighborhood and the main character I would have chosen a door that also had a chain etc., to relay that an old-fashioned key just wasn’t enough protection in this neighborhood anymore?

A beautiful cover, but I’m not sure it is as strong as it could have been to reach out beyond the historical romance readership and into the more typically male suspense readership.

* This book was provided for review by the Bethany House Book Review program.