Opening Moves (Patrick Bowers Files Series #6)

Opening Moves (Patrick Bowers Files Series #6)

by Steven James

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In The Bowers Files novels, FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers has stopped some of the most vicious serial killers ever imagined. Now, in the fifth exciting installment, author Steven James takes readers back to Bowers’s terrifying beginning.

Milwaukee, 1997. In a city reeling from the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer, a series of gruesome kidnappings and mutilations draw authorities into a case like nothing they’ve ever seen. Cops think a Dahmer copycat is on the loose.

But Patrick Bowers, working as a homicide detective, suspects this is more than an ode to the infamous cannibal. When he discovers that the shocking acts reference some of the most notorious and macabre killers in our nation’s history, the investigation spirals into a nightmare of manipulation, brutality, and terror.

Wielding groundbreaking investigative techniques, Bowers must now face off with a killer who will stop at nothing to get his message out to the world. Chilling, gritty, and packed with twists and turns, Opening Moves is Steven James’s most heart-pounding novel yet.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451237767
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/04/2012
Series: Patrick Bowers Files Series , #6
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 236,208
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Steven James is the author of more than thirty books, including the critically acclaimed thrillers The Pawn, The Rook, and The Knight. He has a master’s degree in storytelling and has taught writing and creative communication on three continents. When he’s not writing and speaking, you’ll find him trail running, rock climbing, or drinking French roast coffee near his home in eastern Tennessee.

Read an Excerpt


New Territories Pub
Vincent Hayes stepped cautiously into the bar, trying un¬successfully to still his heart, to quiet his apprehension.

He’d never done this before, never tried to pick up a man.

As he entered, two patrons who were seated at the bar— Mexican in his mid-twenties and an older Cauca¬sian who looked maybe a few years older than Vincent, around forty-five or so— turned to face him. The younger man had his hand resting gently on the middle-aged gen¬tleman’s knee.

Vincent gave the men a somewhat forced nod, they smiled a bit, then turned to gaze into each other’s eyes again and went back to their conversation— perhaps a joke that the Mexican was telling, because Vincent heard the other man chuckle as he passed by and then took in the rest of the bar.

Country music played. Nondescript. Some singer he didn’t recognize. The neon beer signs and dim overheads did little to illuminate the nook and crannied pub. Vincent scanned the tables looking for the right kind of man— young, athletic, but not too muscular. The drugs he was carrying were potent, but muscle mass might diminish their effect. Maybe. He wasn’t sure. He’d never used the drugs before, but tonight he couldn’t risk taking the chance that the man would awaken before he was done with him.

He was looking for a black man.

All around him in the dim light, men stood talking. Most were gathered in groups of two or three. Very few single guys. Vincent was brawny and cut an impressive figure that turned a few heads, but none that looked promising.

Even though he wanted to be alert so he wouldn’t make a mistake, he also needed something strong to take the edge off, to help anesthetize his inhibitions. Vincent took a seat at the bar and ordered a vodka.

Yes, yes, of course he was nervous. But there was also adrenaline there. Anxiety churning around violently be¬neath the surge of apprehension.

Keep your cool. This is not a time to make some kind of stupid mistake.

So far he hadn’t seen anyone who fit the bill. Some were too old. A few younger couples were moving in time to the music on the dance floor on the far side of the bar. No single African-American like he was look¬ing for.

He felt the brush of movement against his arm. A slim white guy who didn’t look old enough to be here legally drew up a barstool. “Waiting for someone?” His voice was melodic and inviting. Charming might be a better word for it.

Yes, he was the right age, but he was the wrong race. Vincent gave him only a momentary glance. He didn’t want to be rude or draw attention, but he didn’t want to lead him on either.

“Um. Yes.”


Vincent downed half of his vodka.

“Lucky guy,” the man said under his breath, but, al¬most certainly on purpose, loud enough for Vincent to hear.

Get out of here. Try another bar. Already too many peo¬ple have seen you in here.

Although it was supposed to happen at this bar, Vin¬cent realized it was more important for it to happen than where it did.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. He laid some cash beside his unfinished drink, then stood to leave. He’d taken two steps toward the door when he saw the type of man he was looking for: an athletic African-American, sitting alone in the booth near the narrow hallway to the rest¬rooms.

Just like the young man who’d taken a seat beside Vin¬cent a moment ago, this guy looked on the shy side of twenty-one, but Vincent guessed that carding people wasn’t exactly at the top of the management’s priority list.

He had a beer bottle in front of him, a Lienenkugel’s. Almost empty. Vincent ordered two more from the bar¬tender, excused himself from the guy who’d been com¬ing on to him, and carried the two beers toward the booth.

Just get him to the minivan. You’re bigger. You can eas¬ily overpower him in there.

As Vincent crossed the room, he surreptitiously dropped the two pills into one of the bottles and gently swirled them to the bottom.

When he was halfway to the booth, the young black man looked his way.

Vincent smiled, then, nervous, dropped his gaze.

You can do this; come on, you can do this.

He’d already decided he would cuff him as soon as he got him into the van. Hopefully, he’d be too drugged to fight much or call for help, but Vincent had a gag and duct tape waiting just in case. If he wasn’t able to get him to take off his clothes before he cuffed him, he would strip the guy, cutting off his shirt and jeans with the fabric shears when he was done.

And then move forward with things from there.

Almost to the booth now, he waited for the man to say something, but when he didn’t, Vincent spoke, trying out the same line the guy had used on him a few mo¬ments earlier. “Waiting for someone?”

The black man— kid, really— looked his way, wide-eyed. Wet his lips slightly. “I saw Mark with you. That what he asked you?”

Vincent set down the drinks. “Busted.”

“He needs to expand his repertoire.”

“I guess I do too.”

The young man eyed the beers, and said demurely, “One of those for me?”

Vincent slid the drugged beer toward him, smiled again, and took a seat.

The guy offered Vincent a soft nod, accepted the drink, and held out his hand palm down, a diminutive handshake. “I’m Lionel.”

“Vincent.” He shook Lionel’s hand.

“Mmm. Vincent.” It almost sounded like Lionel was purring. “Very European.” His eyes gleamed. “A shade mysterious.” He took a sip of his beer. “I haven’t seen you here before, Vincent.”

“I’m . . .” Vincent couldn’t think of anything clever or witty to say. “Well, I . . . This is my first time.”

“Your first time, what? Here?”

He hesitated. “Yes.”

“Or your first time. Period?”

“Yes. My first time. Period.”

Lionel looked at him as if he’d just said something humorous. “You haven’t done this before. Ever?”

“No.” Vincent took a drink as a way of hiding, but also of, hopefully, encouraging the young man to drink his beer as well.

It worked.

When Lionel had finished the swig, his eyes drifted toward Vincent’s left hand. Toward his wedding ring.

“You’re married.”


“Why tonight? Why did you come tonight? Is she out of town?”

The last thing Vincent wanted to do right now was talk about Colleen. “Yes,” he said, lying. “Visiting her parents.”

“And you decided to try something a little different? For a change?”

“To step out on a limb. Yes.” His heart was beating. Thinking about Colleen made all of this harder.

Vincent took another sip from his drink. So did Lio¬nel.

“I don’t live far from here,” Vincent offered, and then immediately realized that it was much too forward. On the other hand, if his suspicions were right, Lionel was working the place, looking for payment for his compan¬ionship, and wasting a lot of time on formalities wouldn’t serve either of their interests.

“Really? Where?”

“Not far.”

A wink. “Staying mysterious, are we?”

Vincent had no idea how to respond. “I really . . . I’m not sure how to say this. Um, are you, well, are you—”

Lionel laid his hand gently on Vincent’s forearm. “I can be whatever you want me to be, Vincent.”

It was a long moment before he removed his hand.

“Okay.” Vincent said.

Lionel smiled softly. “Okay.”

Another swig.

And another.

And although Vincent was anxious to get going, he realized he needed a little time for the drugs to work, so he answered Lionel’s questions about where he’d gone to college, UW–La Crosse, and what he did for a living, managed a PR firm. In response, Lionel mentioned that he had a theater degree from DePaul and was an actor “between jobs.”

As the minutes passed, the drugs and alcohol started to have the desired effect.


“Um-hmm.” His voice was wavering, unfocused.

“Do you want to leave?”

“Your place is close?” he mumbled.

“Yes. Let’s get you to the car.”

No response, just a bleary nod.

So Vincent helped Lionel to his feet and supported him on the way to the door.


Excerpted from "Opening Moves"
by .
Copyright © 2012 Steven James.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“[A] master storyteller.”—Publishers Weekly

Opening Moves is a mesmerizing read. From the first chapter, it sets its hook deep and drags you through a darkly gripping story with relentless power. My conclusion: I need to read more of Steven James.” —Michael Connelly, New York Times bestselling author of The Drop

“With a multi-dimensional quality, Steven James writes with a confident, assured ease. Just good, old-fashioned, gimmick free storytelling that pushes the envelope to the edge and beyond.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Columbus Affair

“Steven James has created a fast moving thriller with psychological depth and gripping action. Opening Moves is a smart, taut, intense novel of suspense that reads like a cross between Michael Connelly and Thomas Harris…Opening Moves is a blisteringly fast and riveting read.” —Mark Greaney, New York Times bestselling author of Ballistic

Customer Reviews

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Opening Moves: The Bowers Files 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exceptional beyond words. Invest in every word he has written, you'll thank me later.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Steven James. This prequel did not disappoint! I can not wait until the next in the series comes out. I believe it is titled The King.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed the entire Patrick Bowers series and this one is no different. Enjoyed the twists and turns and liked the way everything was brought together. Still has a little room left for another book before the first one. Hint, hint. I will not give away the plot or expected unexpected twists. Let's just say this is Patrick Bowers that "Queen" talked about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book by Steven James. He kept you guessing throughout the whole book.
Melanie19 More than 1 year ago
I think Opening Moves might be one of Steven James' most chilling and creepy Patrick Bowers book yet (although all of them are creepy in their own way). I found Opening Moves very interesting and I loved getting to see Patrick Bowers in the way that we do and finding out more about this case (which was mentioned in other Patrick Bowers books). The story was super suspenseful and (at times) very gruesome - even I had trouble reading it at times and I don't get creeped out by many books - so I'd only recommend this to people who like scary books and can take gruesome scenes. There were a few things I personally didn't like, including when someone said "oh my ***" and a few other edgy things. That said, I did love the story very much and am still giving it five stars because it was so great! One thing I definitely have taken away from reading the Patrick Bowers series (and especially this book) is a reminder of how depraved humanity is and how we are all born sinners and in need of salvation which can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ. While Opening Moves does contain evil, it doesn't glamorize it or show it in a positive light. Some of the crimes talked about in Opening Moves actually occurred in real life which made this book all the more chilling and (at times) hard to read. This book made me think, held my attention throughout, and there were a lot of twists I didn't see coming! A great read that, as long as you enjoy thrillers and don't mind some gruesome/violent scenes, I completely recommend! You don't need to have read the other books in the Patrick Bowers series first because this is considered a prequel. After reading Opening Moves I now can hardly wait to read the next Patrick Bowers book, The King, which is set to release July 2013! *I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*
Suspensemag More than 1 year ago
Steven James brought us Patrick Bowers in his debut novel “The Pawn” and the series has continued onward, earning Steven rave reviews and many awards along the way. His last book “The Queen” continued the events of Patrick Bowers both professionally and personally, but one thing was always in the back of my mind, how did Patrick get this way? With many series characters, the author sets you in the middle of their life, leaving the reader to wonder what happened to them in the beginning. Steven answers that question with his latest book “Opening Moves.” While this book is the sixth in the series, it should be read as the first. Steven is not only a master storyteller, but actually does have a master’s degree in storytelling from ETSU. “Opening Moves” takes the reader back to 1997 in Milwaukee, WI at the height of the Dahmer crimes. With a city still recovering from those events, Patrick is now on the hunt for a copycat killer. At that time, Bowers was a homicide detective and thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse, giving the reader the exact point at which Patrick’s life changed. “Opening Moves” is a high octane thriller that expands on the life of Patrick, while taking the reader through a journey that is both horrifying and suspenseful. Put “Opening Moves” in your library, and then continue on through the rest of the series. Very few writers can do what Steven has done with this series and that is what puts him at the top of the thriller genre today. Reviewed by John Raab, CEO/Publisher for Suspense Magazine
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't wait for the next Patrick Bowers story!! Steven James rocks!!! Hey Steven....I think Tessa needs to follow in Patrick's footsteps. I love that kid!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
taralynee More than 1 year ago
A truly edge-of-your-seat series that I recommend to many… That’s what Steven James’ Patrick Bowers novels are. Each one has more creativity and uniqueness than I could begin to describe, so you’re just going to have to read them and see for yourself. Opening Moves takes us back to the 1990s, with portable phones and videos. We meet Patrick Bowers, a homicide detective in Milwaukee, and quickly realize that he’s something special. His observation skills and the depth of his thinking, paired up with his loyalty and perseverance, make him a detective unlike any other. He often finds himself pondering how our choices and experiences shape our lives, and what justice really looks like. Pat, as his friends call him, is investigating a series of terribly grotesque crimes. The villain seems to be honoring past twisted criminals, including a cannibal, with his crime spree, and each one is progressively worse and more cruel than the one before. In order to catch the bad guy and end this horrific series of events, Pat turns to new and nearly unheard of investigation strategies. Nobody is above suspicion as this young detective seeks out the truth. Personally, I highly recommend this book be read first, even though it wasn’t written until after several of the other books in the series. While this series can be read out of order if you insist on it, and they each have an individual storyline, they all fit together like a puzzle, and to get the full picture in the best possible way, they need to be read in order. There are continuing characters and plot lines that show up throughout the series… and this should be respected and used to make the most of the story! Before I finished reading my first novel by this amazing storyteller, he had already earned a spot as one of my favorite writers. As great as they are, though, be aware that they can be somewhat graphic, due to the nature of Patrick’s line of work. After pondering this for quite a while, I think I’ll go with taco salad as a food comparison for this series. There are so many flavors and textures… just as Steven James’ writing is made up of many levels of story, so very intricately woven together to draw in the reader.
Jennifer Yates More than 1 year ago
Oh. My. Gosh! If these books got any better, I couldn't stand it. Well-researched, believable, honest characters whom you will fall in love with. Plot twists that keep you guessing and still surprise you. This book takes you back to the beginning of Bowers's story, making you feel like an insider, from his mini-Maglite obsession to his coffee snobbery. I think I know Patrick personally. That's how you hook me with A book. Fantastic characters who struggle with real life questions. Can't wait for more from Steven James.
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Lv2ReadDA More than 1 year ago
I started reading this author through a free sample than B&N was featuring and have become addicted! I love the Patrick Bowers series... if you're not familiar with this series, think Criminal Minds in a book... definitely start with book one, although each book has its own plot and story, there is enough carry through from prior books to warrant it. Buy it - you will not be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book
jojoLJ More than 1 year ago
I have really enjoyed the Patrick Bowers series, they are well written, interesting and enjoyable to read.
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wizard76 More than 1 year ago
Good but not as good as the other 5. Seems that this really was written first from a writting style. It does give some background that is helpful. I really recommend his other 5 in the series.
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PastorDave More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent prequel to the Patrick Bowers series. I enjoy the development of characters and relationships throughout the series, as well as the action and suspense. This sets up the later roles and the situations for the relationships.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago