'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.
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...
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 (297 words).
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
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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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.
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.
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