My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoied this Bowers’s mystery. Using DC for a backdrop and moving into and around the Quantico facilty for the FBI simply heightened the suspense over time. Steven James finally develops the relationship between Bowers and the different women in his life, Raven, Cheyenne, and Lien-hua. The way he is both a father and a friend to Raven is a great sub-plot throughout. In addition, her need to begin placing a new permanent woman into Bower’s long-term life plans is a great little laugh during low points of suspense. Cheyenne and Lien-hua are both asked to dinner by Raven, funny and awkward all at once. The only part of the story that brought me difficulties was his clunky way of introducing the ethical issues of “preeminent justice” as a psuedo-motive needed more work. It just took too much time to develop and seemed a bit rushed by the time the resolution was introduced and played out. I understand why he introduces the moral questions of theory but the real payoff is that Raven begins asking questions about faith with Cheyenne. (Spoilers Following Jump Link)
Now, as for the killers and the murders, Steven James puts an increased amount of out of sight violence to push the edge factor. After a brutal death by cop scenario, we are then given a bloody attack within a chimp cage, a carved-up baggage corpse, a blown-up gas station and three GSW victims in the last chapter. Ouch, and did I mention a pregnant woman being zip-tied to a decaying corpse at the FBI Body Farm. Yuck! I was sure it was Sevren Adkins by about pg 300. The female killer was making too many comments about his love for blood. Accompany that with his inner dialog of game innuendos and it just made sense. By the end I was so taken by the suspense of the story that I didn’t mind knowing who was the killer. The female killer was tough to crack and I admittedly did not know who she was until the end. My guesses were incorrect all three times. Other aspects of the story all came together nicely in the end as well. New conflicts with Raven’s biological father, Paul Lansing, and Margret Wellington’s passion for becoming FBI Director were more hurdles that made the final payoff all the more worth it.
In the end, this has to be my favorite of the series thus far. Steven James has taken the time to develop the characters well and one can see that his idea of a six part series was well thought out. My only wonder is who the final two will be. We are led to believe one thing at the end, Basque is back and with the possible help of soon to be ex-FBI Director but James is great at misdirection and big payoffs.