Summary and book reviews of Turning Angel by Greg Iles

Turning Angel

by Greg Iles

Turning Angel
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2005, 512 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2006, 672 pages

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Book Summary

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

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.

On the surface, Kate Townsend seems the most unlikely murder victim imaginable. A star student and athlete, she'd been accepted to Harvard and carried the hope and pride of the town on her shoulders. But like her school and her town, Kate also had a secret life -- one about which her adult lover knew little. When Drew begs Penn to defend him, Penn allows his sense of obligation to override his instinct and agrees. 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.

More dangerous yet is Shad Johnson, the black district attorney whose dream is to send a rich white man to death row in Mississippi. At Shad's order, Drew is jailed, the police cease hunting Kate's killer, and Penn realizes that only by finding Kate's murderer himself can he save his friend's life.

With his daughter's babysitter as his guide, Penn penetrates the secret world of St. Stephen's, a place that parents never see, where reality veers so radically from appearance that Penn risks losing his own moral compass. St. Stephen's is a dark mirror of the adult world, one populated by steroid-crazed jocks, girls desperate for attention, jaded teens flirting with nihilism, and hidden among them all -- one true psychopath. It is Penn's journey into the heart of his alma mater that gives Turning Angel its hypnotic power, for on that journey he finds that the intersection of the adult and nearly adult worlds is a dangerous place indeed. By the time Penn arrives at the shattering truth behind Kate Townsend's death, his quiet Southern town will never be the same.

Prologue

The rain kept falling, swelling the creek until it lifted the girl into its muddy flood. She swept down through the town, unseen by anyone as she passed the grassy mounds where three hundred years ago Indians worshipped the sun. She bobbed in the current beneath the Highway 61 bridge, naked and unbloodied, not yet gray, limp as a sleeping child. She rolled with the creek, which wound through the woods toward the paper mill and crashed into the Mississippi River in a maelstrom of brown waves. The girl made this journey alone and unknowing, but soon she would whip the town into another kind of maelstrom, one that would make the river seem placid by comparison.

She never meant to cause trouble. She was a quiet girl, brilliant and full of life. When she laughed, others laughed with her. When she cried, she hid her tears. She was blessed with many gifts and took none...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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."   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (297 words).

Media Reviews

The Washington Post - Patrick Anderson

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 - and, again, there is no reason to think Natchez is unique. Iles populates this town with characters who are all too real and makes clear that its privileged young people no longer live isolated lives .. this is a powerful piece of popular fiction.

Kirkus Reviews

Another parboiled offering from the poster boy of southern gothic thrillers... Lively scenes pop up here and there, but 500-plus pages will transmogrify most thrillers into a relentless march of predictable events.

Booklist - David Pitt

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.

Library Journal - Thomas L Kilpatrick

This book will certainly please fans of Iles's earlier novels, while its thrill-a-minute pace and frequent plot twists are certain to appeal to new readers.

Publishers Weekly

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

Reader Reviews

Beverly

Turning Angel
This was one of his best books. And I have read them all. I read this book in 2 days I could not put it down if you had not read this book you really need to it is great!

Gina

Greg Isles is Great
I am an advid reader of suspense novels. I discovered Greg Iles several years ago. His novels keep me on the edge of my seat. You see real-life scenarios, and that makes the books even more believable. Greg Isles Rocks!

Deborah

Fast- Paced Thriller
I've not read Greg Iles before. This book drew me in early and kept me on the edge of my seat for the 48 hours it took me to finish it. Over the top, but what a great ride. I highly recommend this book as a fast-paced, guilty pleasure. Nothing ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Greg Iles was born in Germany in 1960, where his father ran the US Embassy Medical Clinic during the height of the Cold War. He spent his youth in Natchez, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1983; followed by several years playing music in the band "Frankly Scarlet."

The year after he was married, he gigged on the road for 50 weeks out of 52, and realized that this lifestyle was simply not sustainable with a family. He quit the band and began working eighteen...

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