If your idea of a great thriller involves conspiracy on a grand scale with a larger-than-life hero facing off against an equally impressive villain, you couldn’t do much better than to pick up THE KING, the newest thriller from Steven James.
The hero in this case is James’ series character Patrick Bowers, an FBI agent who has helped track some of the nation’s most violent serial killers. In THE KING, one of those old elusive enemies returns, looking for revenge. It’s easy to care about Bowers survival, because James has built a very interesting hero.
“He’s a coffee snob, rock climber and a struggling single dad with a surly, yet whip-smart teenage daughter,” James says of Bowers. “Cool under pressure, a little dark, a little haunted by his past, he’s a guy with the darkness sort of always snapping at his heels.”
He’s also Sherlock Holmes smart, yet a man of action who will never shy away from a fight. As this book opens he’s settling into a new post at the FBI academy. He and his fiancée, Lien-hua Jiang, are planning their future together with his stepdaughter, Tessa. It is at this point, when he thinks his life is about to settle into some semblance of normality, that Richard Basque, a monster from Bowers’ past, reappears and forces him into a desperate hunt to save the two women in his life. And yes, he’s also racing to stop an international conspiracy that could well become the most horrific act of terrorism in U.S. history. The lead characters will be very familiar to Steven James’ fans, but the novel will still feel unique – like all of James’ work.
“In each of my novels I like to have a different flavor,” James says. “ONE, like OPENING MOVES, will be a deep psychological suspense story. Another, like THE KING, will have more of an international conspiracy or terrorist angle—always trying to avoid those cookie-cutter novels. This one has to do with vengeance on a grand scale involving counterfeit drugs that have a rather harsh effect on the people who use them. I have to admit, the science is all there and the research really freaked me out because I could see something like this actually happening.”
Although he’s written stand alone books, James confesses that he really loves working with series characters. In a series, he explains, you really get to know those people you’re writing.
“At this point, after seven books, I could put Patrick or his stepdaughter Tessa or his best friend Ralph into almost any situation and know right away how they would respond,” James says. “Over the last half dozen years they’ve taken on almost real-life personalities and it’s hard to imagine letting the series end. It’d be like moving away from a group of close friends.”
Bowers is a great character to write, partially because he’s different from all the other serial killer hunters out there. He’s not a profiler. He’s not a CSI, tracing DNA. And he’s not really a traditional detective looking for motive, means and opportunity to solve murders.
“He’s unique because he uses 21st century geospatial technology to analyze the timing, location and progression of serial crimes to work backward and try to find the home base for the offender. Think NUMBERS meets 24. It’s a blast writing about some of this stuff—and a little scary what they can do.”
James says he stumbled across this unusual approach when he was working on his first Bowers novel, THE PAWN. Because it’s an emerging technology, it’s always fresh and new.
One pivotal scene in THE KING is a confrontation between Bowers and Basque about halfway through the book. The reason James loves the scene so much offers an interesting insight into his writing style.
“When I started working on the scene I didn’t know how it would play out and, I have to say, it didn’t go where I thought it would,” James admits. “It’s one of the great benefits of writing organically and not using an outline. I love being surprised by the twists in the stories, and it seems like that’s one of the things readers enjoy most as well.”
After writing more than 30 books, Steven James is at the top of his game… and so is Patrick Bowers. Treat yourself to the proof with their latest adventure, THE KING.
Steven James has penned 30+ books including his award winning Patrick Bowers thriller series. He has received wide critical acclaim for his work including two Publishers Weekly starred reviews and three Christy Awards for best suspense. Steven has an MA in Storytelling and is an active member of International Thriller Writers, the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, and International Association of Crime Writers. He is a contributing editor to Writer’s Digest, and has taught writing and storytelling principles on three continents. He lives in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife and three daughters. When he’s not writing or speaking, he’s rock climbing, playing disc golf, or slipping away to a matinee.
To learn more about Steven, please visit his website.