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Monday, March 10, 2014

Book Review: The Pawn by Steven James

Finished March 9, 2014

Synopsis at Good Reads

Special Agent Patrick Bowers had only met one man who made him truly afraid. Until now. When he’s called to North Carolina to consult on the case of an area serial killer, he finds himself in a deadly game. Cunning and lethal, the killer is always one step ahead of the law, and he’s about to strike again. It will take all of Bowers’ instincts and training to stop this man who calls himself the Illusionist. And just when the pieces start to come together, Bowers realizes they’re not quite adding up. Can he unravel the pattern and save the next victim? Or will the Illusionist win the game by taking one of his opponent’s pieces? Thrilling, chilling, and impossible to put down, The Pawn will hold suspense lovers in its iron grip until the very last page

My Review at Good Reads

3 of 5 stars

I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy this book because I did but I can’t give it a higher rating either because it just didn’t leave me feeling satisfied as a reader either. There was a lot going on in this book and it really felt like too much for most of the book. I was impressed in the later stages of the book when all of the seemingly unrelated pieces started to weave together. It helped the story unscatter. But then it all fit together too neatly and it lost a few believability points with me.

There was grisly detail about the incident that was the catalyst for the serial killer's sadistic methods but in his killing there was a lot of death without much detail. I loved the chess game and the symbolism of the pieces left with the victims but wasn’t crazy about the killer’s expertise at everything and uncanny luck; it was a little unhuman, again the credibility issue. The end went on a little too long setting up for an obvious sequel. The twist at the end that I felt was supposed to shock me was telegraphed chapters before it was confirmed to be true.

The biggest disappointment was identifying the killer. The reader knows who he is all along although I admit for the first half of the book I thought it was a multiple personality killer. When Patrick Bowers, the main character, realizes exactly who the killer is I wanted to be able to realize he’s right. I wanted to be as shocked as he was. Unfortunately my reaction was “really? That came out of left field.” I felt like the author decided who the killer would actually be just before writing that reveal. There wasn’t even a hint to that identity in the book. It kinda left I thinking his mask was pulled off and he yelled “you darned kids!” except that I recall the “secret identity” of the bad guys still made sense in Scooby Do when I was a child.

It’s an interesting book but I just prefer my fiction to be a little more realistic to enjoy it.

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