Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Rook by Steven James

The Rook cover

The Rook
by Steven James

Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Onyx
First Released: 2009

Author Website
Buy from Publisher

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

My Description of the Book:
Special Agent Patrick Bowers is called in to track down an arsonist who is burning down empty houses around San Diego. As an environmental criminologist, he uses the time, place, and spatial factors of the crimes to track down the arsonist, but the "why" behind the fires remains a mystery.

Then his team stumbles onto a kidnapping message to the arsonist: if the arsonist doesn't follow the directions given to him, then his girlfriend will die. Now it's a race to find the kidnapped woman, determine what the arsonist was sent to do and why, and capture the criminals before anyone dies.

The Rook was a well-written, fast-paced forensic/detective thriller. This is the second Patrick Bowers novel, but you don't need to read the first book, The Pawn, to understand what's going on in this one.

The first novel had a very well-written "who-done-it" element, but this book was more a thriller with a good dose of romance. While still a bit dark, The Rook wasn't as gruesome as The Pawn. The crimes and crime scenes were chilling, though not particularly graphic (i.e. he gives you just enough to let your imagination fill in the details).

The details about the city, people, and investigation made the novel come alive in my imagination. The characters were complex, interesting, and had realistic emotional struggles. I especially liked the emotional struggles Bower's stepdaughter, Tessa, went through as fallout from what happened in the first novel. I also liked how the author portrayed the main women as smart, competent, respected, and not trying to be men.

The main detective characters struggled with the evil they saw every day in the criminals they're out to stop and in their own dark desire to hurt the bad guys--blow for blow--for the harm they've done to other people.

The main characters weren't Christian. One of the characters did call out to God when she was dying, but I think most readers would be comfortable with how the few religious aspects were handled.

There was no sex. There was a minimal amount of swearing and the cussing was in the "he cursed" style. Overall, I'd highly recommend this thoughtful, well-written thriller.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Monday, February 16, 2009
San Diego, California
5:46 p.m.

I stared at the array of silverware surrounding my plate. "I can never remember which fork to use for the salad."

My stepdaughter, Tessa, pointed. "The outside one, Patrick. You start there and work your way in."

"You sure?"

She picked up my forks one at a time, a family of leather bracelets riding up and down her wrist, over the four rubber bands she wore beneath them. "Salad, main dish, then desert."

As she set down my desert fork, I realized how much we both stuck out at this restaurant. Everyone else wore a dinner jacket or an evening gown; we both had on T-shirts--mine, a faded athletic shirt from Marquette University, hers, a black, long-sleeve DeathNail 13 tee with the band's logo of an eyeball with a nail stuck through it. Beside the picture she wore a small pin: "Save Darfur. Now."

Tessa had chosen light pink lipstick tonight, but black fingernail polish and black eye shadow to match her raven black hair. I hadn't been too thrilled about the eyebrow ring and pierced nose she'd gotten last month without my permission, but I had to admit they were cute. And with her three-quarter-length black tights under a crinkly fabric skirt, she looked slightly Goth, a little edgy and dark, yet still girlish and innocent at seventeen.

"So, how do you know so much about table settings?" I asked.

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