Although previous cases and players are mentioned in the beginning, I was able to easily 'catch up'. The book opens with a pair of killers committing a horrific crime. They have a detailed plan to continue their 'game.' FBI Special Agent Bowers and his team are called in.
Bowers' speciality is fascinating - he consults with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency for the FBI. "Using the locations related to serial offenses and sttudying the timing, location, and progression of the crimes, we can work backward to find the most likely location of the offender's home base." The degree to which this was used was intriguing.
I liked Bowers as a character. He's introspective, intelligent, confident yet fallible. He is the sole guardian of his step daughter Tessa. Their relationship is a work in progress. Tessa herself is just as interesting as Bowers. She's highly intelligent and it is some of her reveries that spur truly thought provoking. philosophical conversations between many of the characters. Good vs evil, what separates man from beast, is evil predetermined, pre emptive justice and more. James has produced some incredible chilling characters in the killers.
The main plot is intelligent and carefully crafted, drawing on cutting edge technology and news. Read carefully though as there are twists and turns just when you think you know where the story is going. There are many sub plots playing out at the same time - political machinations and Bowers' love life. Lots of foreshadowing had me reading 'just one more chapter' and I found myself sneaking a peak a few pages ahead more than once.
The Bishop is put out by a publisher that focuses mainly on Christian books and authors. The plot of The Bishop is not for the faint at heart. It is violent and would be disturbing to many readers. How can these two jibe?
From the author:
'In my books I want people to look honestly at what our world is like, both the good and the evil. The evil in my books is not senseless; people’s lives are treated as precious and I want my readers to hurt when an innocent life is taken. The only way to do that is to let them see it on the page and then reflect on its meaning.
I think that an effective way of dissuading someone from doing something is to make them see it as deeply disturbing. And the only way to make people disturbed by evil is to show it to them as what it really is. I believe that including graphic material within the broader context of a redemptive story, just as the Bible does, is appropriate when trying to reveal the truth about human nature and our relationship with the Divine. I believe that the Bible includes graphic material to show how far we as a race can fall, and how far God came to rescue us from ourselves. That's what I hope to do in my novels as well."
All in all, a great thriller. Following a chess theme, The Queen, the next in the series is due out in the summer of 2011. I'll be picking it up.
Join Steven for The Bishop book launch party on Facebook.