The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon)'s Reviews > The Queen

The Queen by Steven James
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Whoo-hooo! 4.5 stars. The Queen! Is a wonderful read. My favorite of the series so far.

A Tale of many stories

On one hand there is this killer serial killer story. Patrick Bowers serves at the head of the manhunt for the infamous Mr. Basque. One layer below that, there is a tale of international espionage that gets more and more tangled. Throw in a winter storm and rural Wisconsin and it only gets more tangled.

The standard suspense thriller is just as fun any other book. It’s both complicated and challenging. There is a lot of action and Patrick Bowers is as always, brilliant and human.

Then there’s the Love Story between Patrick and Lien Hua. Patrick is such a dufuss sometimes. He’s the classic geek. So smart and focused he can’t see the bear trap in front of him until he steps in it. Oh, what a tangled web romance can be… especially if your love life history is full of minefields like Patrick’s is. Still, love wins out in the end.

Then there’s the personal story that Patrick is dealing with while he’s trying to catch serial killers and stop World War III, catch a serial killer, and solve a double murder. A secret between Patrick and his brother, another between Patrick and his Sister in Law all seem to collide at the wrong time. And, beneath it all, his brother’s drinking problem is getting worse. Could the timing be worse for a family crisis? … nevermind, this is Patrick Bowers, don’t answer that. It can always get worse.

There is also the ongoing story of Tessa (Raven). This time Tessa is still wrestling with her own demons from the end of the last book, The bishop. She had already been on shaky ground and now she battled the joy felt when killing a man who had tormentd her and caused her biological father’s death. In the third book she’d proven she could take care of herself, now she has to deal with what that means. She has her secrets to keep from Patrick too, yet, this is a time when she needs him to live more than anything. As always this is a sweet, father daughter thing. Steven James has three daughters. No doubt he’s got the life experience to figure this one out. It’s a touching story there. I bet in the next book, Tessa gets a boyfriend and Patrick has a heart attack.

Add the story thread of an aging assassin with a dark past and a chip on his shoulder who’s out for vengence and we got a tangled plot.

Then, mingled with all of the above is a message of faith, hope, what forgiveness means and how to forgive. These sweet spiritual messages have been in all five books, but I like this one the most. How do you forgive someone? How do you make amends? Does it really mean anything?

In most cases, so many competing story themes would be distracting and take away from the overall entertainment value. In this case, each theme echoes the overall spiritual message in some way or another. It’s like staring into a kaleidoscope where the images shift and build on each other and the patterns are all similar, yet not the same.
James helps us navigate the through the soul of the story and eventually, an answer comes that’s astonishing, relieving and heart felt. In his novels, Steven James does what Ted Dekker (Red, White and Black) and other Christian Writers have attempted to do with mixed success. Use an exciting story as an analogy to explain matters of faith that require more than simple words to understand.

Having said that, this story is so well written, that, if you didn’t know that Steven James is a Christian author, you’d never guess and boy, the story is still fantastic. James doesn’t shove faith down your throat, he simply offers an explanation and allows you to enjoy it, then make up your own mind. The message is a good one, no matter your faith.

And, regardless of the message of faith, this is a gripping, edge of your seat, suspense, THRILLER!, that is full of action and frightening characters, real heroes and acts of bravery and courage from start to finish. Really, a very good read.

Warnings:
1) The characters, particularly Lien Hua and Ralph, have been established in earlier books. The stories and back story for Tessa has played out from book one to the fifth book and there are many other aspects of the story in play in “The Queen” that have developed over four books. You need to read them in order and start with the first one to get the full effect and most enjoyment.

2) Patrick Bowers hunts Serial Killers. Some of this subject matter is difficult to read about. James manages the most difficult parts gently, with enough to engage the fear centers of the mind, but without the gore or voyeurism that other writers put in their stories. This is a human story about human beings, no zombies, vampires or other creatures that thrive on gore and ghoul to make their mark. As well as they are handled here, you can’t talk about serial killers and be taken seriously without some tough to handle subject matter.

3) There is some violence. Again, like the note about serial killers, James manages these scenes well and, in my opinion, any Young Adult could manage these scenes without problems though it might offend pacifists and some Vegans.

4) There are some religious themes here. Strangely, I think that people fixed in their own religious views might take offense before agnostics, atheists and people with more flexible points of view on religion. The message is universal, if you want something more specific to a specific religious doctrine, you need to look elsewhere or simply enjoy the thrilling side of the story.

Regret: just one. The theme of Forgiveness and how it plays out is very in keeping with what Alcoholics Anonymous and other Twelve Step Recovery groups follow. It might have been nice to have Sean, who comes to grips with his drinking problem at the end of the story and drives off in the night, to have gone to an AA meeting. Add this theme: It’s not, get right with God and your addiction will be over, it’s fix the drinking problem so you can get right with God. The idea is change the way you live your life, (change your life style) if you want to feel better about being alive. Just my opinion.

The Bottom Line: This is another home run by Steven James, the latest in an outstanding series, Complex, exciting, edge of your seat writing of the highest caliber. A great read.

Recommended for everybody from young adult to geriatric grumpy Curmudgeon.


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Reading Progress

09/29/2011 page 50
10.0% "A good solid, get you thinking Patrick Bowers Files start. Just getting into it, more later."
09/29/2011 page 60
12.0% "Okay, already into it and Sad Sack Patrick Bowers is on the case. He really needs Raven (Tessa) or Lynn Hua with him to cheer him up. (that's part of his charm. Good book so far)"
09/30/2011 page 80
15.0% "Finally we hear from Tessa and she's still smarter than Patrick. Patrick still had girl troubles. The pour sap!"
09/30/2011 page 160
31.0% "As usual, Patrick's a dumb-ass sometimes. At least Tessa's on her way to straighten him out. What does it mean when your 17 year old daughter has to coach you about women and relationships if your 39? (and note to self. Don't go swiming in freezing rivers in Wisconsin in the winter.)"
09/30/2011 page 256
50.0% "The plot thickens, as do the girl problems. Patrick, Patrick, Patrick... when will you ever learn?"
10/04/2011 page 517
100.0% "Finished. As with the other four books, there is a healing theme in this one that I found almost more compelling than the story. <spoiler> The theme of forgivness and how to live with the things that happen in the past. Beautiful, well told. My favorite part of this series.</spoiler>"

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