In my opinion, Steven James is an excellent example that you can create a fast-paced, edgy, real-to-life crime drama without the need for excess profanity or gore. That said, I certainly wouldn't suggest these books for younger readers. In fact, I didn't allow my children to read them prior to adulthood, assuming that happens at 18. Steven deals with some very real challenges that face both adults and teenagers.
Aside from the disappointment that the series is really done, Checkmate will in no way disappoint readers of the prior books in the series. With twists, misdirection, and clues galore Checkmate, and the rest of the series, will appeal to both mystery and thriller fans alike. Steven exhibits a mastery of the ability to create believable characters, including frighteningly realistic psychotic antagonists. As an author, I find at times I'm intimidated to reveal the truth of the darkness that a creative mind is capable of dreaming up for stories such as these. I can only imagine Steven must feel this at times as well.
Along these lines, I loved the struggle Patrick Bowers, the protagonist of the series, deals with as he faces his own demons while hunting down some of the worst criminals imaginable. What is justice when dealing with serial killers? How different are these psychopaths from the rest of us? How close to the line does one dare go before the pull of darkness drags them across?
Perhaps, my favorite line in the series appears near the end of the last book:
You strive for justice, you move toward the light when you can, and you shake off the darkness that clings to you from living on this fractured planet of lost dreams and sharp heartache.
This is a great illustration of the phrase in John 1:5, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." We all should remember that if it weren't for the grace of God, we all would find ourselves on the short end of being able to control the darkness that permeates our souls. Only the true light of Christ is capable of driving out the darkness and giving us an opportunity to pursue righteousness. Not our own, but that of Christ.
Thanks you Steven James for this intense, yet insightful series.
'Till next time.