Presto! The Bowers Files disappear and James's new series explodes onto the fiction stage with Jevin Banks, an escape artist who tragically loses his family and his nerve for his craft. Now he uses his background as an illusionist to debunk fake psychics and televangelists by replicating and exposing what they do on his television show. When he and his sidekicks, Charlene and Xavier, delve into a pharmaceutical company's research into mind-to-mind communication and therapies that could radically extend life, the worlds of big drug companies, counter-terrorism, and government collide.James's brand of high-end suspense distinguishes itself as Christian through characters that stare evil in the face and don't back down because of their faith, despite doubts and confusion. The writing, pacing and plot lines are impeccable, the author always pulling up the shade a bit for a shaft of light and redemption to make gruesome scenes somehow bearable. Much isn't fully resolved, but that's why readers like series and are happy to let money vanish and reappear in the pockets of masterful novelists like James.
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Customer Reviews for Placebo, Jevin Banks Series #1
Review 1 for Placebo, Jevin Banks Series #1
Another good series to follow
Date:February 9, 2013
I loved the Patrick Bowers series by Steven James so I was excited to see another series from him. I did enjoy this novel, though at times, it was hard to follow all the scientific jargon that was presented (quantum physics and areas related to the mind). I did enjoy reading the action that took place through the eyes of a magician. Looking forward to the next book in the series.
Steven James does a great job of creating interesting characters. In this first installment of the Jevin Banks novels, we find a very interesting cast of characters. Jevin Banks as the leader is bright, creative and deeply troubled by the death of his wife and twin sons. He is assisted by Charlene Antioch, his assistnat from his magic days, Xavier Wray, the guy with the cool toys to help them in their exposé, and Fionna McClury, computer genius and homeschooling mom. They are an interesting mix but compliment each other very well, I look forward to the development of this cast of characters.
The premise of the story is very intellectual dealing with mind to mind communication and quantum physics. So it was a little “heady” for me at times, but I found the story is engaging and it moved at a good pace. You know who the good guys and the bad guys are in this story early on, but there are some unexpected twists that I didn’t see coming.
One thing I’ve noticed about Steven James’ writing is the graphic nature. He has the ability to describe a scene in such a way that can visualize it in living color. There may be a couple of scenes that are not for the faint of heart.
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Review 3 for Placebo, Jevin Banks Series #1
Date:January 6, 2013
So far I have read all of the Bower Series that are available, 5 to date, along with "Opening Moves" and I have found each one to be very thought provoking and they challenge me to grow spiritually. 'Placebo" is no exception, in fact I have even highlighted sections and read them to my family to discuss. This is an interesting story, but what you learn about many nonchristians worldview is very helpful. I plan to use what I learn to help me relate to those I know who debunk Christianity. Thanks Steven James for another masterfully written book
This is one fast paced, edge of the seat type of thriller. Though a few times I got bogged down in the technology language, it was not enough keep me from turning those pages one after another in rapid succession. The drama is ratchet high and tense. If you are like me, and you think about the story after you have closed the book and are settled in bed, do not read it late into the night. This story is a sure way to get the heart rate up. The story flows rapidly, and though the scene bounces from one area of the United States to another, and across the world, the POV changes and the reader has no trouble keeping up. The subject is deep...and fanciful, or not. I would get so deeply involved in the story that I would need to come up for breath and remind myself that this is fiction at its best, the conspiracy is not real and alive, or is it? The descriptions are so vivid that I expect I would recognize the characters if I met them on the street, and I would go to Heron Bay, New Jersey, PineLake, Oregon or even Lancerton, Maine to name a few of the places, I would look for the identifying places in each of those towns. If you or a friend is a fan of Steven James, this is a must have on your shelves this winter.
I received this book free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishering Group for the purpose of writing an honest review. A postive critique was not required. The opinions stated here are my own.
Steven James has earned a place on my list of "totally awesome authors", and Placebo is another winner! Just when I was wondering how on earth he could come up with a character as appealing and heroic as Patrick Bowers from the Bowers Files series, along comes Jevin Banks, a former magician/illusionist turned exposé filmmaker, and someone who just happens to be trained in martial arts as well. The opening scenes of the book immediately cause you to empathize with Jevin, and things only get more compelling and intense from there as you watch him in action, encountering far more than he bargained for in his latest investigation. I always appreciate when authors can come up with a conceivable plot that allows character to legitimately be in the midst of crime, and Jevin is a man of many talents who is is just real enough to seem believable in his role. The potential love interest in the book is well-handled with a light touch, and I must say that the characters portrayed as psychopaths are truly chilling to encounter!
I enjoyed this story from start to finish, both loving the characters and being mesmerized by the intricate and fascinating plot. Elements of faith are cleverly woven into the story without coming across as being preachy, and as such the book is sure to appeal to a large variety of audience. If you are looking for a top-notch, suspenseful read, then Placebo is what you've been waiting for. 5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
An intrigue filled drama that takes the reader along for the ride!
Jevin Banks has lost his wife and children in what appears to have been an unexplainable suicide, that leaves Jevin heartbroken and with many unanswered questions. While investigating a questionable scientific study with his partner Charlene, they find that they have stumbled onto a chilling conspiracy...
Placebo is a science fiction thriller, titled after the effect achieved when a scientifically ineffective method is used to treat an ailment, yet the person believes that it is the cure so they feel better. In this book Mr. James dives into the world of neurological studies, and pharmaceuticals, in a way that is thrilling and chilling.
This is the first time I have read a book by Mr. James, and I'll honestly say that it wasn't my personal style. I found his rendering of certain elements just too much for me, though I'm sure that others wouldn't have any problems with it. I really liked how Mr. James was able to bring the setting and tale to life as if I was actually right there beside him, but as a ghost. Placebo is written in a style that very few can pull off, 1st person (with a touch of 2nd person) present tense, and I thought that Mr. James did it better than anyone I have read! He definitely has a wonderfully unique voice!
Overall, and well written Christian thriller with characters that had a tangible depth to them that I thought was stellar. And while this book wasn't really my style, I could find no real fault with anything else, and now I completely understand why Mr. Steven James is such a highly acclaimed author, and I can't say that I disagree!
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
This is a roller-coaster ride that will keep you gripping the sides of the book!
Wow. Placebo is amazing. I cannot fathom the depth of research Steven James put into this novel, but let me tell you, it was all worth it. All the medical and psychology terms and knowledge bring this story to life in such a way I haven’t seen.
This is the first novel written by Mr. James that I have read. All bundled into it is gritty suspense, well rounded characters, psychopaths, a mystery, and a single idea: your thoughts can impact someone else. Mr. James presents this thought in a way that makes it almost seem plausible! In some cases it was actually really creepy.
Jevin, whose head we are for the most part in during the book, has just lost his wife and two sons. Their deaths appear to be because Jevin’s wife committed suicide by running their minivan into the water. It is truly heartbreaking to read, which is why I’m glad Mr. James provides him with great, supporting, friends. Jevin is also a “magician” or “illusionist”, he used to perform shows in large cities and after the deaths of his family he acquired a television show about debunking the evangelical fakes and psychics on TV.
There are three who have been working with Jevin for quite some time, by the sound of it. You have Charlene, the one who is usually on stage with Jevin, Xavier, the conspirator-slash-special effects manager, and Fionna, the one who does all the research. Together, the four of them make a fabulous team.
A small disclaimer though, I would recommend this book to mature teen readers only. There is some content that might be considered questionable for younger teens. There are also at most two “bad” words. Other than that, I found this book an excellent thrilling read.
Special thanks to Donna for this review copy! I received this book from Revell in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done.
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Review 9 for Placebo, Jevin Banks Series #1
Date:November 16, 2012
I received Placebo and started reading it but it took a while to grab my interest and when it did I found it did not appeal to me like the Bowers Files did. I did not think it had the intensity of surprise and intrigue as Dekker or Perettie. I read all of Stephen James Bowers Files and do not think this book equals them. I am not sure I will read more of this series.
The tragic deaths of Jevin Banks wife and twin boys jolt you at the outset of the book. It’s senseless. He tries to find someone to blame. Maybe that someone is himself. Though the story starts out as an emotional downer, the author jacks up the pace as Jevin changes occupations.
Once an illusionist and escape-artist, he has turned his talents to finding truth in expose film-making projects, debunking test results, exposing them as fakes and tricks to scam people of their money. He works his new job with his former partners Charlene and Xavier. This particular project brings him into the manipulative world of a particular pharmaceutical firm who will stop at nothing to get what they want.
Steven James brings in the thriller aspects he is so well-known for, making for a gritty, suspenseful read. One you can’t put down until you’re finished with the book. The scientific aspects of mind-to-mind communicating, the use of tolerase, and quantum physics kind of left me scraping through the story for a while, leaving me a bit confused, but the author brings it to a point of understanding that makes all the medical and scientific terms necessary and more understandable to bring the story to its conclusion. You get that ‘Aha’ moment and it falls into place. True Steven James writing!
Steven wove many different plot angles that kept me thinking on my feet. I enjoyed his thriller cat and mouse story on all the different levels of action. The characters definitely fit the scenarios and situations. There are those you’d rather not meet.
The story of Riah Colette was most intriguing to me, as she lived her life without feelings or sensing consequences to her choices. Having seen this type of behavior in person, I felt the author brought out a poignant look of dysfunctional family life and its effects on those involved, following them into their adult life.
I did have a problem with some of the language the author used that I don’t feel belongs in Christian writing. Though it fits the scenarios of a non-Christian book, I think he could have woven it around differently to make his point.
Though I enjoyed the Patrick Bowers Files more, I think this series will be a hit as well for Steven James enthusiasts! I’m ready for the next book.
This book was provided by Donna Hausler, Blog Tour Coordinator for Revell, in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was received.
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books for everyday life. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.
I am a HUGE fan of the Patrick Bowers series by Steven James - HUGE! So when I knew Steven James was writing a new series I was excited but tentative. Change can be hard for readers sometimes, but it isn't always a bad thing. In this case I found Placebo to be very interesting and cerebral, with a new cast of characters that were fun to get to know. I had trouble letting go of Patrick Bowers at the beginning and embracing Jevin Banks - though I really liked his sidekicks Charlene and Xavier immediately. The plots that interwove in the book were a little hard to track for awhile, but was very intriguing. Once my head was able to wrap around what was going on I really liked what I was reading. This is going to be an interesting series and I think each book will get stronger as Jevin Banks starts stepping into his own.
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Review 12 for Placebo, Jevin Banks Series #1
1st in Jevin Banks Experience series taut thriller
Placebo by Steven James is the first book in his new Jevin Banks' Experience series. Jevin was a successful escape artist until his wife inexplicably drove her van into a lake, drowning herself and their twin sons. Haunted by their deaths and blaming himself for not being able to rescue them, Jevin has started a new career using his magician's skills to expose psychics and paranormal experts using the tricks he knows all too well. His latest job is to expose the fakery of a quantum physicist, Dr. Tambryn, who is claiming to be able to prove a form of telepathy between people who have a close relationship. His trusted team of Charlene, his "lovely assistant" and Xavier, his tech guy with a taste for conspiracy theories, travel with him to Tambryn's clinic, but their plans are suddenly changed when an assassin tries to murder the doctor, which exposes a link between the clinic and a pharmaceutical firm. Jevin's determination to find the truth could lead him all the way to the White House and question all that he knows to be true. James has become one of my favorite authors with his Patrick Bowers series, and while I was initially disappointed that this book wasn't in that series, Jevin quickly won me over with his broken heart and desire to save everyone around him and make up for those he couldn't save. James grounds the story in scientific fact, making the wild theories inside seem all too possible, and while Jevin's skill set wouldn't seem that powerful, his clever mind makes him a smart action hero. His team, Charlene, Xavier, and Fionna (the technical queen who with her homeschooled children can break into any computer) add both humor and heart to the story and keep Jevin grounded. Placebo will have you wondering just how much James has made up and what is true, and the political machinations will have ramifications far into the series. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!
Jevin Banks is a successful magician who blames himself for the death of his wife and twin sons. After quitting the stage, he starts a new career as an expose filmmaker who uses his expertise to expose charlatans for what they really are. He and his stage assistant, Charlene, are working on a new story investigating a clinic doing studies on mind-to-mind communication. As they dig deeper, they uncover a conspiracy involving the clinic, a pharmaceutical company, and the military.
This is the first book I have read by Steven James, and I have been told by those who have read his other books that this is very different from his previous series. I enjoyed the fast paced thriller aspect of this story. There wasn’t much mystery involved, but perhaps that is because I have read too many novels like this and was just able to see where it was going. I still enjoyed watching how our characters figured out what was going on and seeing how it all fit together.
I also really enjoyed the two main characters in this book. Jevin (Jev) and Charlene started the book as close friends with a long history. But, with Jev’s wife and sons being dead only 13 months, it was a strained relationship. It was great watching them grow closer together as the book progressed. It felt like a very natural progression, too.
But, one of the biggest problems I had with this novel was how dark it was. The book starts out telling the story of the death of Jev’s wife and twin sons, and it is told in very graphic detail. And then of course Jev kept reliving it throughout the book. In addition to that story, there were several characters in the book who would best be described as psychopaths. They have no conscience or feelings at all. Reading the descriptions of the child abuse and torture that took place in their lives was just too much for me. I found it way too disturbing at times, especially for a Christian novel, and if the remainder of the series is to be as dark, I might not continue with it.
I will also say that the main concept behind this book was a bit farfetched. I personally do not buy into the concept of affecting other people with our thoughts. And, trying to explain away prayer or miracles by saying that we are influencing others with the connections of quantum particles that we all share was just too much. However, it was cool how it made the skeptic main character evaluate the things in which he believes. The process of his path toward God was very realistic. He didn’t get all the way there, but hopefully he will in the next few books.
So, I am torn. I enjoyed most of the story and the two main characters. I would really enjoy reading another story based on these two characters. However, if the next book in the series is anywhere near as dark and disturbing as this one, I probably will not be reading it.
Steven James in his new book, “Placebo” Book One in the Jevin Banks series published by Revell introduces us to Jevin Banks
From the back cover: One man must uncover the truth–even when others will stop at nothing to keep it buried.
While investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposé filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms. He seeks answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program–and answers to his own family tragedy.
Rooted in groundbreaking science, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. This taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James will keep you flipping pages late into the night.
When you receive a new Steven James thriller here is the checklist to do before you start reading. Turn off the computer and the phone, make yourself a large hot chocolate, or beverage of your choice, have your snacks handy and settle into your reading chair comfortably because you are going to be there for a while and not want to move until you finish reading. With ”Placebo” Mr. James gives us a conspiracy and he has loaded this high-octane thriller with so much misinformation and deceit that it takes a lot of concentration just to keep your head above water. ”Placebo” races along at lightening speed and all the characters are put their paces trying to solve this conspiracy that involves pharmaceutical companies and the military and put all the pieces together.
Mr. James grabs a hold of your nerves and squeezes until you think you can’t be squeezed anymore and then she squeezes those nerves some more. What more can we ask for? “Placebo” gives us much, much more. This is a top-notch thriller and, I think, this is Mr. James’ best work yet and that is saying some. Mr. James takes us on a ride that leaves us breathless but extremely satisfied. Sort of like the way you feel after a roller coaster ride. I liked this book and recommend it highly!
If you missed the interview for “The Knight”, a different series, and/or would like to hear the previous interview where we discussed the first two books and would like to listen to it and/or listen to interviews with other authors and professionals please go to Kingdom Highlights where they are available On Demand.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
“Available November 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
Jevin Banks survivor of a family tragedy, becomes involved in a conspriacy linked to a pharmaceutical company.
Riah Colette vicim of a challenging childhood and now member of a research team has learned how to achieve the impossible goal even at the expense of others.
In the course of danger, and as the time window narrows, death is imminent. Will it be possible to discover the true link and escape that which seems an unreachable goal?
This novel can be enjoyed by all who crave first class suspense, intrigue and drama. Character development was high, dialogue seemed to flow well and plot was well crafted, lots of twists, turns, intense drama and excitement to satisfy. This is the first novel I have read from the author and plan to go back and read his previous series. The storyline left some new developments and makes room for the next one to start where this one left off. I was entertained and will recommend this book to others. 3.8 Stars I received a complimentary copy from Revell Publishers for my review.
“Available November 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
Placebo is the start of a new series, this time with Jevin Banks as the main character. I'll admit that I was convinced I knew by page 66 exactly where the story was going -- though it didn't -- but I wouldn't be surprised if another book in the series goes where I anticipated.
Jevin Banks is an illusionist who made it big and then disappeared from the show scene when his wife and twin boys died. Now he spends his energy exposing frauds on a national television show. He thinks his trip to a retreat/research center will be one more opportunity to expose frauds. Instead, he's dropped in the center of a quest to see how our lives are interconnected through quantum physics and how twins can communicate and possibly affect the actions of others. Jevin is dealing with grief, interacting with a great supporting cast of characters, and on the race of his life to uncover exactly what is happening. Along the way he may even open his heart to love.
Placebo has the searching questions of James' other series. It also has the intimacy with the main character that I love. As I closed the book, I felt like I knew Jevin. The beginning felt a tad slow...the thriller pacing doesn't kick in until about halfway through the book. Still this is a book I really enjoyed and I'm already anticipating the sequel.
The publisher provided a copy of the book, but the opinion is all mine.
Unlike James’ Patrick Bowers thrillers, Placebo is a medical thriller. However, you will find many of the same elements he included in the Bowers books within this new series about Jevin Banks. Jevin Banks has a female co-worker who appears to be his love interest. He also has a good friend. The characters are interconnected and work together to solve the case. The villains are just as creepy, and the answers still aren’t always clear. I hung on the edge of suspense all the way through this novel, just as I did reading the Patrick Bowers series.
The one thing I noticed in Placebo is the amount of information shared concerning technical medical terminology and procedures. At times, it felt like I was reading a textbook more than a novel, but the information seemed necessary in order for me to understand what was going on within the plot. It did tend to slow the story down, though.
Otherwise, I kept turning the pages to find out what happened next. Jevin Banks is an intriguing character who is dealing with the grief of losing a spouse and asking the deep questions that coincide with such sorrows of life. The opening chapter is the best opening chapter I’ve ever read in a novel. I would totally keep reading this new series and look forward to the next book.
Jevin Banks, a skilled magician with a brown belt in TaeKwonDo, now earns his living by exposing phoney fortune-telling scam artists and the like for cable television. He and his small team go undercover to investigate a large paranormal research center.
I've learned a bit of science during the reading of this novel. I sure would like to see telomerase, a drug that stops aging come to market! I know I'm not being fair to say so little, but I don't want to publish spoilers. The plot grabs the reader, and the book is a hard one to put down. I did not see where this was going, and had to keep turning those pages. It certainly held my interest. Some passages are scarey. I may not sleep well tonight.
Characters are believable. A set of twins who seem to be able to combine their ability to change their environment are being tested. Could their combined thoughts work toward the good==or the bad?
Thank you to Donna Hausler at Baker Publishing Group and Revell for my copy.