©2007 Steven James; (P)2008 Recorded Books,LLC
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"Entertaining Enough, But Don't Listen Too Closely"
Enjoyable, but flawed.
On the plus side, this is an entertaining listen that will keep you engaged. If you overlook a few plot gimmicks, you will probably enjoy this tale. I did and will listen to more of Steven James books.
James is particularly deft in handling the "Christian inspirational" themes. These wouldn't deter me even if they were handled more forcefully; I enjoyed the Left Behind series which IS much more direct. James, though, uses a relatively light touch that works well and naturally for this story ~ so if this sort of thing gives you pause, there is no need to fear overt moralizing or calls to conversion. This is not that kind of book.
What you will find are good, but flawed, good guys ~ very bad, bad guys ~ focus on an interesting criminological technique ~ and a creative, engaging plot.
Unfortunately, that plot is unnecessarily, almost distracting, complex. Narrator Richard Ferrone, ordinarily one of the best, stumbles a bit here, failing to differentiate voices sufficiently to render the multiple villains easily identifiable.
The plot is also, sometimes, ridiculously contrived. An example: our protagonist, FBI special agent Patrick Bowers, is something of a wunderkind in tracking serial killers. He is in the midst of a search for such a villain who tortures and kills young women; many of them. On a personal level, our hero is also having trouble bonding with his new step-daughter. So instead of planning to spend quality time with her following his violent man hunt, he insists the FBI fly the 17-year-old in to see him, right in the middle of the serial killers' hunting ground. Oh, I wonder what might happen there! (sarcasm).
Alas, James resorts to this sort of plot contrivance several times. It detracts from the story and renders the characters and the tale less believable. For maximum enjoyment, prepare yourself to overlook this sort of thing.
Also, don't expect too much in the way of character development. It is all but absent, except in the main protagonist, where it is sudden and not especially well developed.
And lastly, prepare yourself for moments of tortured, overworked prose. An example: Bowers, preparing to see his step-daughter, observes that he is off "to see this raven, left on my doorstep, by this thing we call life."
All in all, enjoyable but flawed. There are probably better places to spend a credit (for mysteries/suspense/thrillers, first try Lee Child, Thomas Harris, Michael Connelly, Stieg Larsson, Tess Gerritsen, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, Vince Flynn, John Sandford, Sandra Brown, David Baldacci, Jonathan Kellerman, you get the idea).
If you have already mined these writers, then maybe it's worth giving Steven James a try. I did and am preparing to sample the second in this series, fingers crossed that story-telling improves as the series grows. After all, in one of James' more overt inspirational observations, "Hope is evidence of God."
"This book hooks you fast!"
Very powerful start, with a dark side. The plot thickens quickly and you have a real page turner (or in the case of audio ... a real page listener). I would call this a mystery/suspense with a Christian world view. This is my first book by Steven James but it will not be my last.
"Intense mystery series begins here"
I would recommend this title whole-heartedly. I have not been a huge fan of mysteries, but Steven James weaves a story like a master. I am glued to my player every moment of this story. When I have to stop listening, I can't wait to get back to it,
If audio-books had pages, this would be a real page turner. Never knowing exactly what twist will come next. I can't get enough Patrick Bowers. His insight into the mind of criminals is amazing.
I really like they attitude he gives to Tessa, Patrick Bowers' step-daughter. As the father of a teen-age girl, he somehow nails the inflections and attitude amazingly well.
Some times the game hinges on the smallest piece
The one drawback I found in this audiobook is that Richard Ferrone sounds too old for the character of Patrick Bowers as he is described in the book. This really threw me for about the first hour or two of listening...then the story just got a hold of me and I forgot the small complaint.
"Can't wait for book four The Bishop"
All three books where great in this series. Steven James writes them in away that you get to know the charecters better and better. He also makes it so you keep on guessing who the villian is. I had thought i had it figured out in book one but boy was i wrong. If you like a good mystery i recommend these books.
"Incredibly Suspenseful, Full of Surprises"
This is the first novel in a thriller series, that you don't want to miss. This is my second time around listening to the series, and I can tell you right now that for someone interested in suspenseful thrillers, this is a perfect use of your credits. The author has the ability to tell multiple story lines in the same novel, weaving them together while leaving you hanging on the edge of your seat. I couldn't put it down. Each of the novels in the series builds on each other. They can hang by themselves but to get the most out of them, you should read them in order. This guy, Steven James is great. I think he's even better than John Sandford. Don't take my word for it. Take a chance. Listen to this first one and you'll see what I mean.
For most of the books in this series, it was really hard to guess who was the antagonist. Or if you knew about one bad guy, you weren't sure if you knew about all of them. And the outcome, who would live and who would die, was not really predictable. You just were never sure. And at the end of each story, the author leaves you anxious to read the next book in the series.
The main character, the hero, is Detective Patrick Bowers, and while he is well developed and I like him, my favorite character has got to be Tessa, his stepdaughter. She reminded me of so many of teenage girls I have known. Richard Ferrone delivered Tessa's lines with the punk style of an unusual teenager who is not afraid to speak her mind. For women who might be a bit put off of the gory details of some of the story, I would say that the emotional details and challenges experienced by Tessa are well worth the listen.
I would say that in this first book, the moment when Detective Bowers and his step daughter realize that they need to work together to carve out their new life together as a family. Being a family is never easy. And this book illustrates the sacrifices one makes to build a family and stay together during tough times.
"First of Steven James"
I've seen this book and series several times but never got around to reading any of James' works. I'm so glad I downloaded this with my monthly credit! I definitely want to read more from this author!
I really enjoyed the twisting plot! I have to admit that some of the details about what the Illusionist did to his women hurt my head...and I do not have a weak stomach!
It definitely kept me on the edge of my seat how Bowers tried to get ahead of the Illusionist. I kept guessing where he would go next!
This was also my first to listen to a narration by Richard Ferrone and I do agree with another post/review that at times Ferrone made it difficult to distinguish characters by his voice. Other than that I think he is a great narrator!
I definitely wanted to sit down and listen to the whole book at once! I stayed up late into the night more than once listening to this book (then I was scared to sleep! Haha).
I would definitely recommend this book to others...I loved it!
"Well Done Thriller"
This book kept me interested until the very end. Looking forward to his next book.
"Intricate, spell-binding, yet too much gore"
This is the first Steven James book I've ever listened to and he is definitely a master storyteller capable of capturing a reader's attention early and holding it until the final word, BUT it would have been just as interesting and far more enjoyable without such graphic descriptions of the crimes.
not a fan of the reader's portrayal of some of the characters but I love James' story and style
Gave the story 4 stars almost gave 5 because there is NO filth. This keeps getting harder and harder to find. He also does a great job of fleshing out the characters and making them real. Found myself emotionally involved with the good the bad and even the Tessa :). Action parts still need a little work, I worked for 20 yrs doing a job where my actions decided whether people lived or died a LOT, and was a little frustrated at times, by the hero thinking or blabbing when he should have been moving, but that's probably more me than the writing. Definitely kept a good pace throughout the book (I prefer the ones that start out calm and build the characters and story then progress to gripping), ending with it being really hard to put down even to cook dinner.
The narration was great. Tone, pace, were perfect.
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