Steven James burst on to the Christian fiction market a few short years ago with the Pawn. He wrote a thriller with a character who wrestled with moral issues because of the job he held. Patrick Bower rapidly became a favorite of many readers and we all eagerly waited for the next release, racing each other to get a copy so we could read it and then talk about all that was included in the book.
I sadly report that the Patrick Bower series has come to a conclusion with Checkmate. But that didn’t make me wait at all to read it, I wanted to find out how it was all going to conclude. I was not disappointed either. Once again Steven gives us a book that asks the question over and over – ‘How could it be worse?’ The story lines of Steven’s books always seem to be things of nightmares. People are left in caves and tunnels. Bad guys hide under cars so they can slash your Achilles tendon so you can’t run away. People get snakes put in their shirts, which if you don’t sit still will bite you and kill you. AHH! All of those things still haunt my dreams after reading about them.
Patrick is not the intended target of the bombing at a secret FBI facility, but he is the one the bombing is for, the bomber is trying to get Patrick’s attention. A criminal from Patrick’s past resurfaces and has put a story into action and Patrick must follow the story to figure out what is happening and why.
That is the story in a nutshell, but it is so much more. Of course Tessa and Lien-hua are back, Patrick’s nemesis Margaret has also returned to remind Patrick that he does need to follow some rules, and a whole cast of favorites along with new characters fill the pages once again with thought provoking clues but also discussion on a variety of topics. I have to admit that is what I love the most about these books. The mysteries, which are great, almost become secondary to the discussion the characters end up having. Like when Patrick and his partner Ralph have a talk about how do you balance work and family life. That is something we all can relate to and to put that in a book just makes those characters come to life.
I will miss Patrick, but I have read that there is a possibility that we will hear from Patrick again and Steven asked the question on his Facebook page asking if we would be interested in a book with Tessa as the lead character. I said “Yes, please,” and am looking forward to where that series would lead.