Opening Moves


In this series prequel, as a killer commits grisly crimes reminiscent of those of Jeffrey Dahmer, homicide detective Patrick Bowers finds his true calling in the FBI.



As I acknowledge in the note to the reader at the beginning of the book, this story gave me nightmares. It contains three of the most frightening scenes I’ve ever written—the barn scene, the treehouse scene, and Patrick’s nightmare of the cocoon.

Since this story intersects with actual crimes that occurred (including my own father being targeted by two brutal killers who were thankfully captured before they could shoot him), this story is perhaps the most personally gripping and chilling novel I’ve ever written.

While I was researching the novel, a detective in Wisconsin took me into the evidence room to show me the boxes of items that were still kept there and the guns that the killers had with them that they would have used against my father.

Although I wrote The Pawn before any of my other novels, Opening Moves takes place first in the series. So, if you enjoy reading prequels first, start here with the series.


Awards and Honors

Winner of the Christian Manifesto’s Lime Award in Crime, Mystery, and Legal

RT Book Reviews Best Inspirational Suspense Finalist


“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, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

“Full of twists and enjoyable surprise, Opening Moves is a blisteringly fast and riveting read.”

—Mark Greaney, New York Times bestselling author of Ballistic, a Gray Man Novel

“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

“This is suspense writing at its best!”

—RT Book Reviews, Top Pick 4.5 stars

“This book races along at lightning speed.”

—The Suspense Zone

“Prepare yourself for a horror of a ride, edge of your seat thriller of thrillers. A quick, pulsing read with sinister philosophical implications, a touch of faith, and a cast of dedicated pursuers of outlandish evil.”

—Fresh Fiction

“The result is a plot-twisting, heart-pounding, nerve-wracking, page-turning thriller that will keep you reading and guessing and gasping until the very last page.”

—Life is Story

“Join James in this fast-moving, intense thriller that has as many demented twists and turns as the crimes themselves to its unforeseen conclusion.”


“Opening Moves is a high octane thriller . . . taking the reader through a journey that is both horrifying and suspenseful.”

—Suspense Magazine