We are proud to announce that BookBrowse has won Platinum in the 2024 Modern Library Awards.

BookBrowse Reviews Turning Angel by Greg Iles

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Turning Angel

by Greg Iles

Turning Angel by Greg Iles X
Turning Angel by Greg Iles
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Dec 2005, 512 pages

    Nov 2006, 672 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book



The job of great fiction is to entertain, elucidate and educate while keeping readers nailed to their chairs; this does all of that brilliantly - PW

From the book jacket: Turning Angel marks the long-awaited return of Penn Cage, the lawyer hero of The Quiet Game, and introduces Drew Elliott, the highly respected doctor who saved Penn's life in a hiking accident when they were boys. As two of the most prominent citizens of Natchez, Drew and Penn sit on the school board of their alma mater, St. Stephen's Prep. When the nude body of a young female student is found near the Mississippi River, the entire community is shocked -- but no one more than Penn, who discovers that his best friend was entangled in a passionate relationship with the girl and may be accused of her murder.  Penn allows his sense of obligation to override his instinct and agrees to defend his friend. Yet before he can begin, both men are drawn into a dangerous web of blackmail and violence. Drew reacts like anything but an innocent man, and Penn finds himself doubting his friend's motives and searching for a path out of harm's way.

Comment: Coincidentally, Turning Angel explores a similar topic to Picoult's The Tenth Circle (reviewed above). According to his website, Iles has got quite a lot of flak for Turning Angel, which has proved more controversial than any of his other books.  One source of controversy lies in Iles's portrayal of the female victim as having drawn violence on herself by making bad decisions.  In defense of his book Iles says, "Any cop can tell you that some victims are at least partly to blame for the crimes that befall them. We all have a responsibility to use our common sense to protect ourselves, even high school boys and girls."

Another source of controversy is localized among the residents of the small city of Natchez, Mississippi (the setting for for all of Iles's Penn Cage novels). It seems that despite the fact that Iles goes out of his way to say that while the setting of his novels is real, the characters are not, the residents of Natchez (who were once happy to see their city immortalized) have turned figuring out who his characters really are into something of a bloodsport, with vicious rumors abounding after every book is published, particularly after Turning Angel which has as it's central theme the secret lives of high school students, and specifically the phenomenon of sexual affairs between older men and high school girls.

"Please enjoy Turning Angel for what it is, a heartfelt and rather shocked portrayal of a part of our culture that most adults know far too little about, and which we should do all we can to understand. The future is in the hands of the children in this novel, and others like them." - Greg Iles

Pro: "All this is lurid in the extreme and, in Iles's hands, entirely gripping, but there is more to Turning Angel than sex and scandal. Iles offers an insider's heartfelt picture of a Southern town that is dying because of lousy schools, a failing economy and racial tensions" - The Washington Post.

"Iles has become an A-list thriller writer over the years, and anything with his name on it can be counted on to draw a crowd. Call this one a well-written misfire." - Booklist.

What do you think?  Read the first chapter for yourself, and if you're not well and truly hooked, move on!

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in January 2006, and has been updated for the December 2006 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!


Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Turning Angel, try these:

  • The Tenth Circle jacket

    The Tenth Circle

    by Jodi Picoult

    Published 2006

    About this book

    More by this author

    Looks at that delicate moment when a child learns that her parents don't know all of the answers and when being a good parent means letting go of your child.

  • The Lincoln Lawyer jacket

    The Lincoln Lawyer

    by Michael Connelly

    Published 2006

    About this book

    More by this author

    A stunning display of novelistic mastery - as human, as gripping, and as whiplash-surprising as any novel yet from the writer Publishers Weekly has called "today's Dostoyevsky of crime literature.

We have 4 read-alikes for Turning Angel, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Greg Iles
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Ascent
    The Ascent
    by Adam Plantinga
    Adam Plantinga's brilliant debut novel, The Ascent, introduces readers to former Detroit police ...
  • Book Jacket: The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    by Derek B. Miller
    Derek B. Miller's sixth novel, The Curse of Pietro Houdini, opens in the town of Cassino, Italy, in ...
  • Book Jacket: Our Moon
    Our Moon
    by Rebecca Boyle
    In Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us ...
  • Book Jacket: Neighbors and Other Stories
    Neighbors and Other Stories
    by Diane Oliver
    The history of American segregation, along with changes to it in the 1960s, is sometimes taught and ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Becoming Madam Secretary
    by Stephanie Dray

    She took on titans, battled generals, and changed the world as we know it…

  • Book Jacket

    Strong Passions
    by Barbara Weisberg

    Shocking revelations of a wife's adultery in 19th New York explode in an incendiary trial exposing the upper-crust and its secrets.

Win This Book
Win The Cleaner

The Cleaner
by Brandi Wells

Rarely has cubicle culture been depicted in such griminess or with such glee."
PW (starred review)



Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.