PUBLICATION DATE: SEPTEMBER 04, 2012
efore he was an FBI agent, Patrick Bowers was a Milwaukee homicide detective. With his sharp mind and uncanny ability to ‘notice things’, Patrick moved quickly up the ranks of the Milwaukee Police Department. When a bizarre abduction and mutilation occurs, with eerie similarities to notorious serial killer, Jeffery Dahmer, Patrick is chosen to lead the task force responsible for locating the perpetrator. However, Patrick’s case also happens to have some semblances to a series of deaths FBI agent Ralph Hawkins is investigating. With Patrick and Ralph combining their knowledge and expertise, it soon becomes obvious this case is bigger and more unsettling than either had imagined. In a masterfully written, though quite disturbing novel, Opening Movesis an absolutely brilliant, complex, riveting story of human depravity amidst whispers of hope.
I might be losing my credibility here, but once again I must say Opening Moves is quite possibly Steven James’ best book to date. I feel like I stay that way too often, but he is truly a master storyteller that seems to keep getting better. Once again, the characters are brilliant, the suspense intense, the story riveting,the terror real, and hope seeps through the seams of the disturbing nature of the human heart. This is creepy, crime fiction at its best, but it’s also the illumination of hope in the midst of despair; of redemption within reach but tragically refused. Without a doubt, Opening Moves is brilliant and quite frankly I do not see how James can top this story come next year.
When I first heard about the premise for this book, I wondered how interesting the story was going to be. After all, there are several things I knew going in, not the least of which is the identity of the serial killer dubbed the Maneater. Several facts about the case have been provided throughout the Patrick Bowers series, so I questioned whether the suspense and uncertainty as the book reached its climax would be there. My concerns were completely unfounded. Even knowing what was going to happen, I simply couldn’t put the book down. Not only that, this well-known storyline is intertwined with a second disturbing individual. Discovering the identity of the person responsible for abducting, blackmailing, and mutilating women is the main case Patrick is trying to crack. However, it blends and interconnects seamlessly with the Maneater case making both storylines thoroughly engrossing.
Opening Moves is certainly a disturbing novel. Usually when an author notes they had nightmares while writing the book, I take it with a grain of salt. But I don’t doubt James had nightmares writing this book. At one point, I wasn’t sure I wanted to venture outside during the early morning hours for a walk. There’s something terribly disturbing about reading accounts of real-life serial killers, but equally disturbing is a fiction author who has done their research and presents it so that their fiction comes across as authentic. The casual tone of the killer in this book is at times chilling. The normality in which this person goes about their vicious crimes left me shaken. But the reminder that the potential of evil is within each of our hearts is illuminated against the blackness of the lives of the real-life and fictional people in this story. Yes, this book is undoubtedly disturbing, but it also full of truth, offering hope and redemption.
It is interesting to read the beginning of Patrick’s story, especially knowing how his life progresses in the coming years. Several parts are quite humorous given the many different twists his life will take. In keeping with the rest of the series, Opening Moves can be read out of publication order. But unlike other series, I’m not sure it has a place where it fits best. It makes a fantastic beginning to the series but works equally well as a sixth book prequel; it’s quite versatile.
What else can I say? Well, actually I could probably write a 15 page paper on this book, but I will show some restraint. This is seriously a freakishly amazing book. I cannot say enough positives about Steven James or the Patrick Bowers series. I’m blown away each time I pick up one of James’ novels and Opening Moves is simply another brilliant book by an unbelievably talented storyteller. Five stars is way too low of a rating for this one!