Turning Angel: A Novel Info

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When the body of Kate Townsend turns up near the Mississippi
River and his close friend, physician Drew Elliott, admits to a love
affair with the murdered girl, attorney Penn Cage once again tangles
with the dark side of his hometown of Natchez, Mississippi, to
investigate the secret world of an elite nearby high school, teenage
sex, drugs, and violence. 250,000 first printing.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Turning Angel: A Novel:

1

Sep 20, 2007

This is easily the worst book I've ever read, and I've read Jewel's book of poetry. The story seems to exist only as a vehicle for Iles to create this ludicrous world in which sexy, teenage girls are unable to keep from flinging themselves at every middle-aged man that comes along. This might make for some great poker night b.s. stories for Iles and his buddies, but as a novel, it comes off as a pervert's collection of fantasties. Just creepy. Imagine if John Mark Karr rewrote Lolita, and you've This is easily the worst book I've ever read, and I've read Jewel's book of poetry. The story seems to exist only as a vehicle for Iles to create this ludicrous world in which sexy, teenage girls are unable to keep from flinging themselves at every middle-aged man that comes along. This might make for some great poker night b.s. stories for Iles and his buddies, but as a novel, it comes off as a pervert's collection of fantasties. Just creepy. Imagine if John Mark Karr rewrote Lolita, and you've got a pretty good idea. ...more
5

Jul 17, 2015

Greg Iles should be ashamed of himself. I had shit to do yesterday. Important shit, I tell ya. But I spent all of yesterday (and yesternight, as my three-year-old son would say) devouring the last 250 pages of yonder book. Past a certain point, I couldn't stop reading. Iles wouldn't let me. I regret nothing.

Turning Angel is the second book I've read by Iles, and the second book in the Penn Cage series. I expected a similar setup and delivery as I received in the first Penn Cage novel, The Quiet Greg Iles should be ashamed of himself. I had shit to do yesterday. Important shit, I tell ya. But I spent all of yesterday (and yesternight, as my three-year-old son would say) devouring the last 250 pages of yonder book. Past a certain point, I couldn't stop reading. Iles wouldn't let me. I regret nothing.

Turning Angel is the second book I've read by Iles, and the second book in the Penn Cage series. I expected a similar setup and delivery as I received in the first Penn Cage novel, The Quiet Game, because, you know, if it ain't broke, why fix it, right? Well, Greg Iles likes to do things differently. At about the 450-page mark, the place where Iles dropped Cage into a courtroom in the first book, Iles flipped the script and took me in an entirely different direction. I said this next bit in my review of the previous installment in this series and I'll say it again: In a world filled to the brim with James Patterson and his clones, someone who respects the craft of writing enough to try something different in every book is refreshing.

The best parts of this book are not in the synopsis. That's how it should be. The blurb would have you believe that this is some average, run-of-the-mill mystery/thriller. That is not the case. Iles has skills. Not only can he write, but he can tell a story like nobody's business. His stuff is captivating and exciting. More than once, I found myself yelling at my paperback. His novels are gruesome and fun and emotional. But, most importantly, they make you think.

In The Quiet Game, Iles tackled race. That topic is prevalent in Turning Angel as well, but this time Iles ruminates on the age of consent and maturity. There is a strong theme and tone to this book, and you just don't see that these days outside of literary novels. The moral dilemmas touched upon herein will likely make you uncomfortable. But that's what good literature does. It challenges you. The decisions Penn has to make are career-killers. They are life-altering. And watching this man's struggle was utterly fascinating.

In summation: I have many more Iles books to get through and I plan to take my time. An author like this is rare: someone able to tell an engaging tale while retaining literary merit. Turning Angel is as good, if not better, than its predecessor. My highest possible recommendation.

Final Judgment: Black Pearl straight to the vein. ...more
2

Oct 21, 2009

Greg Iles has written a 500 page novel which would make any person's stomach turn when thinking of the corruption of Natchez, Mississippi or I guess Anytown USA. This was at the core a murder mystery with a fairly engaging lawyer/writer Penn Cage. He is a good core character, but what ruined it for me and I can bet lots of fans was the disgusting portrayal of the affair of the town's 40 year old physician and resident hottie with the town's 17 year old high school queen. I'm not naive I know Greg Iles has written a 500 page novel which would make any person's stomach turn when thinking of the corruption of Natchez, Mississippi or I guess Anytown USA. This was at the core a murder mystery with a fairly engaging lawyer/writer Penn Cage. He is a good core character, but what ruined it for me and I can bet lots of fans was the disgusting portrayal of the affair of the town's 40 year old physician and resident hottie with the town's 17 year old high school queen. I'm not naive I know these things happen, but Isle's justification for this throughout the book is that the physician was "in love" even though it's considered a felony in this country with a 30 year punishable offense. The side running story between Penn and his 17 year old babysitter is nauseating. Maybe I am more sensitive than most because I have teenage daughters. Regardless of how Isles puts it, the high school hottie fantasy with the especially lurid description from the girl's diary and porno pictures was sick. I kept reading to the end to see if finally although the good doctor was acquitted for murder he would be sentenced for at least sexual battery ........nope. All the peripheral characters have met their judgement day; the drug dealer, the druggy wife, the gangster exchange student,and even the politically ambitious distric attorney, but the pedophile doctor and the pedophile highschool coach both go free with no mention of justice for their actions and Penn Cage considers this a moral victory as the killer is behind bars. I found this novel poorly written especially the dialogue, it was stilted and unnatural and the subject matter really distastful. It disturbed me that pedophilia was glorified and that the fantiasies of middle aged men doing it with high school girls was attributed to "the girls today aren't like the girls we knew." Not worth your time. ...more
5

Feb 19, 2008

If you're just reading Greg Iles for the first time, here's his advice on the order in which to read his books:
If you have just read Turning Angel, you should next read The Quiet Game, the novel in which Penn Cage first appeared, and which many readers believe is my best book. Blood Memory was written before Turning Angel, and Penns father Tom Cage appears there in a supporting role, but I would read Blood Memory after The Quiet Game, not before. You will appreciate Tom much more then.



Of my If you're just reading Greg Iles for the first time, here's his advice on the order in which to read his books:
If you have just read Turning Angel, you should next read The Quiet Game, the novel in which Penn Cage first appeared, and which many readers believe is my best book. Blood Memory was written before Turning Angel, and Penn’s father Tom Cage appears there in a supporting role, but I would read “Blood Memory” after “The Quiet Game,” not before. You will appreciate Tom much more then.



Of my “Natchez” or “Mississippi” novels, the “Penn Cage” novels are a subcategory. I’ve tried not to write a series character, for reasons I’ll discuss elsewhere, but Penn has cropped up as a minor character in other Natchez books, and seems to be developing a life of his own. Of the rest, Mortal Fear, Dead Sleep, 24 Hours, and Sleep No More —while all set in Mississippi (or New Orleans)---stand completely alone and can be read at any point.

...more
2

Aug 20, 2009

I disliked this book the more I read it ...I'm sure that the reason I, as a Black man, put it on my to read list is because some review must have said that it dealt with race relations in the Deep South, a murder mystery, and it had an abundance of Black characters. And it did. But I could not shake the feeling that all of the black folks were "others". None were drawn as real people but more like props...one central character..the ex-army drug dealer..hunh? was so cartoonishly drawn as to be I disliked this book the more I read it ...I'm sure that the reason I, as a Black man, put it on my to read list is because some review must have said that it dealt with race relations in the Deep South, a murder mystery, and it had an abundance of Black characters. And it did. But I could not shake the feeling that all of the black folks were "others". None were drawn as real people but more like props...one central character..the ex-army drug dealer..hunh? was so cartoonishly drawn as to be ludacris even by CSI standards..I kept thinking how much better G. Pelecanos or R.Price could have told the story. The author, I gather, is a European transplant who lives in MS. and it shows...while taking on delicate racial subjects he turns around and spouts racist notions in his exposition..the D.A. is a Johnny Cochrane like idealouge..the really bad guys are Northern Liberals.. and the only Asians are drug runners..Everything in the book would have been perfectly acceptable in a Hollywood movie but when I..again as a Black Man..cannot recognize the humanity in one single Black character..Oh yes there was a Black defense lawyer but I ask you ....why was he even in the book?..then I think I recognize a Movie treatment...."CSI: the Movie" ..when I read it.

Spoiler!!!! That the white pussy obsessed Black drug dealer would keep our hero, the used to be racist now Klan prosecuting prosecutor, captive for weeks by shooting him up with pure heroin to avoid his trail is probably to much of a stretch even for CSI:MIAMI.

This book wants it both ways..it presents a character supposedly rising above his racist roots fighting against deep South racism but yet pulls out every trope and racist stereotype in the book..the mystery is decent but even that involves a dry gaging plot of child molestation...no I cannot recommend this to anyone.. ...more
1

Jan 25, 2020

This was an utter disappointment. There's just no other way for me to describe it. I really enjoyed Greg Iles' first Penn Cage book, so I was looking forward to continuing the series... but now I'm not sure. I read The Quiet Game in two days. This book took me 3 weeks, despite being only 92 pages longer.

The reason that it took me so long is that it sucked. The more I read of this book, the less I liked it, and the less I wanted to pick it up. But I also didn't want to give up on it, because I This was an utter disappointment. There's just no other way for me to describe it. I really enjoyed Greg Iles' first Penn Cage book, so I was looking forward to continuing the series... but now I'm not sure. I read The Quiet Game in two days. This book took me 3 weeks, despite being only 92 pages longer.

The reason that it took me so long is that it sucked. The more I read of this book, the less I liked it, and the less I wanted to pick it up. But I also didn't want to give up on it, because I hoped that the ending would redeem itself and the series. It did not.

So, in this book, a 17 year old girl is found dead in a creek, and her 40 year old "lover" (who just so happens to be Penn Cage's best friend - though we never heard of him before) is arrested for the crime. What follows is 650+ pages of convoluted bullshit and victim blaming and middle-aged creepiness and a plot and resolution so fucking weak that a newborn kitten could take it down.

I had a LOT of problems with this book. A lot. Let's go through them together, eh? There WILL be spoilers, so.. you know the drill.

-----

Problem #1: The way that teenage girls are viewed in this book. We find out very early on that Drew Elliott (Penn's BFF) was having an affair with 17 year old Kate Townsend, and that apparently she was super sexually adventurous. "You don't understand how girls these days are" was said by various middle aged men in positions of authority over said teenagers. And they weren't wrong. Greg Iles does not know how teenaged girls are, because he apparently thinks that they are all nymphomaniac porn stars. Will there be some rebelliousness and experimentation in the life of a teenaged girl? Of course. But the exotic and wild sexual desires and skills depicted in THIS book? I VERY much doubt it.

On top of that, these girls are ALSO depicted as being the best and the brightest and the most beautiful and "mature" of their class. You know... the kind of girls that in other books are the 28 year old college graduate who has traveled and learned about herself and the world and formed at least somewhat educated opinions of how things work and her place in society and her view of herself, etc. Or, in The Quiet Game, the Caitlin Masters.

Here, they are 17 year old high school seniors bound for Brown and Harvard. Of course they are. Because they have to be to justify MIDDLE AGED MEN apparently thinking that it's appropriate to fuck them.

And on top of THAT, we're supposed to believe that these best and brightest Harvard and Brown bound girls were educated in the SECOND LOWEST RATED SCHOOL SYSTEM IN THE NATION. Oh, right, but they went to the PRIVATE school. In the "dying" town that sees graduating students abandon for greener pastures and better opportunities elsewhere... So, what does the private school come up to? 10th lowest? 15th lowest? Definitely Harvard bound graduates aplenty!

Problem #2: The way that teenage boys are viewed in this book. All boys are bad. But some boys are more badder than other boys. And there's a 15 year old hacker wunderkind when needed. That is all.

Problem #3: Drugs. So... this annoyed me. A LOT. This book apparently thinks that marijuana, ecstasy, and LSD are interchangeable with heroin, the way that they are depicted. I've tried all of them (except heroin) and I can say with confidence that they are nothing at all alike. Heroin is the only one that is actually addictive, for one, despite the books claims that there's a fucking LSD epidemic and HUGE DRUG RING complete with rivals gunning for drug kingpin status in Natchez. Give me a fucking break.

I'm not saying it's impossible that there's a drug market... I just really do not believe that it's anything at all like what was depicted here. I would expect this in a city... not a little backwater with a total population of less than 20,000.

Problem #4: Drug dealers. Of which there were two... sort of. The main one, the "conveniently black, obsessed with our dead teen sex goddess, and also conveniently an adult male drug dealer" was Cyrus. One of his crew was the other main drug dealer, Marko, a 17 year old "foreign exchange student" refugee from Croatia.

Sigh. I don't even know where to start here. The issues with the drugs, and the very out of touch views on them made it REALLY obvious that the REAL bad guy was going to be one of these two. Which one kept flip-flopping and alternating throughout the story, because otherwise the book wouldn't need to be nearly 700 fucking pages long.

But my problem here is that neither of these guys made any sense to me as the killer. If Cyrus, the "drug kingpin" of the area wanted Kate badly enough, he could have had her any time. If he wanted her dead, she'd have been dead. He could have snatched her any time he wanted. Literally, ANY TIME. He and his people were able to easily kidnap PENN CAGE, the ex-District Attorney of Houston (lest we forget), while he was literally on the lookout for Cyrus at the time, while he was armed, and kept him for a week, drugged up and docile. People thought that Cage was dead. That's how easy it was for him to take a GROWN MAN WHO WAS ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR CYRUS ALREADY, in broad ass daylight from outside a busy downtown restaurant.

But I'm supposed to believe that a 17 year old girl thwarted him. HOKAY.

(Also, I fucking hate Seinfeld, so my use of this gif should be telling as to just how stupid the "OMG Cyrus must be the killer!" plotline was.)

Likewise Marko made no sense to me, either. Apparently he's supposed to be so scary that nobody will even talk about him. Like, he's a 17 year old Croatian refugee who happens to deal drugs. He's not goddamn Voldemort. But how convenient that he's an outsider, that he's not part of the community. I thought he so obviously had to be a red herring. It was so obviously a case of "scapegoating" that put him on the radar. It pissed me off. I mean, their only reason for suspecting him is because he was dealing drugs and was hiding out. Because you know, all drug dealers just love presenting themselves for questioning at the police station. It's literally their favorite thing. Obviously. The last 50 pages of this book were some of the most ridiculous I've ever read.

Problem #5: Drew Elliott. Dude is a 40 year old doctor. He's handsome (apparently on the level of Greek God), successful, married, a father. And an Eagle Scout! He was also fucking a 17 year old girl, who happened to be one of his patients, and was in LUUURVE with her. She was DIFFERENT. She understood him and made him feel all the ways that he hadn't felt in however long in his loveless sham of a marriage. Blah blah blah. We have heard this all before from cheaters everywhere.

The problem that I have here is that when Drew is cleared of the conviction after the real killer confessed, he just went back to his old life. Oh, yes, he was GRIEVING for his little dead teen lover of course, but otherwise, no apparent change to his situation. People give him the side-eye, but he is still rich, handsome, a father, a husband, and a doctor. This last is the what the absolute everloving fuck of the whole thing. At one point, it's mentioned that his medical license had been suspended, status pending the outcome of the charges against him for Sexual battery (which is when a GROWN ASS MAN who is in any position of authority over a teenager has sex with said teenager.) which were brought after the murder charges were cleared. He didn't kill her, but he definitely did stick his penis in her underage body repeatedly.

But let me reiterate in case you blinked and missed it. His medical license had been suspended, pending the outcome of the sexual battery charge. Meaning that if they drop the charges (and they do, of course) he keeps his medical license.

I'M SORRY... FUCKING WHAT?

Let me get this straight. This man acted completely unethically, by having sex with a teenage girl who he, as her doctor, was supposed to protect. If this girl had been having sex with a DIFFERENT middle aged man and he knew of it, he would have been legally and ethically obligated to report it as sexual assault. But apparently there are zero penalties for Mr. Sexy Doctor who would still have access to more children in his care. At the very least, he should lose his license. But nah! He's a "good guy"!

I will just add here that I was also really disturbed by how Penn Cage stepped right up to the same line with his own Teenage Seductress. He didn't cross it (though did allow a tiny toe to slip over before pulling it back) but at the end of the book when Drew is like "Now do you see?" and Penn is like "Yeah" I threw up in my mouth a bit. Because, it really, really, seemed like that whole situation was written JUST to make it more "understandable" or "identifiable" to the reader how a middle aged father would be attracted to a teenage girl. But also, look at how forward and direct and sexually aware these girls are. They are teenagers only in fact of their biological age - in behavior, in desire, in attitude, they are 25 year old minxes. Can anyone even blame them?

YES. YES THE FUCK I CAN. I was a teenage girl once, and I was also exploring the boundaries of life and sex and attraction and such, and I made a LOT of mistakes that I regret. We don't know who we are then, and we cannot make those kinds of huge life-altering decisions at that age. I have changed SO MUCH from the person I was when I was 17 that it would make your head spin, and I'm eternally grateful that I survived being that stupid naive person.

So yeah. I don't care if the girl throws herself on you, Mr. Middle Aged Man. YOU ARE THE ADULT. YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW BETTER. YOU SHOULD BE BETTER.

Problem #6: Race and Stereotypes
The first book in the Penn Cage series worked for me because it seemed to deal with race in a realistic and decent way. There were still stereotypes, but people were treated as fairly as would be expected in a cultural reality that doesn't reflect equitable idealism. (We're not there yet.) I liked that Penn Cage took up the cause of bringing justice to the white killer of a black man, even though it took place decades before. I liked Penn for that, and I wanted more of THAT Penn (not the creepy cheerleader fan Penn we got in this book. Gross.)

But this book took about 3 or 4 gigantic steps backwards on race issues. Not only was the main drug dealer black, but the "black" housing development that he lived in was described as this horrifically scary, dangerous place, and all of the residents who live there were essentially assumed to be watchers and runners for the drug dealer's people. Regular people who might have no choice but live in a development that they can afford, even if it means that they have to live next door to drug activity - those people apparently don't exist. (Until it's convenient to the plot, anyway.)

Then there were The Asians. That's all they were ever referred to in the book, and the only description they ever got. They were Asian. Ambiguously Asian. Very clearly they were not local, they were othered by nature of how they were described and what they did. They came into the story when it was convenient to the plot, and then they disappeared from it when THAT was convenient to the plot. They literally could have been ANYONE, since their identities were literally unknown and were never important to the plot, but Iles chose to make them Asian, and therefore other them based on stereotypes, as though they were members of the Yakuza.

Then there was Quentin Avery, the uber successful black lawyer who argued and won civil rights cases before the Supreme Court, then left to practice piddly cases for piddly pay... Penn wants to know why, but never asks, and the second time it comes up, it's mentioned that it should be obvious. It's not. Why mention it if you're not going to address it? There are a million reasons why he could have made that decision, and for Penn, a white man who literally does not know this person at all, nor think on the same level as he does, to assume what they are is the height of ignorant arrogance.

THEN there was Caitlin. She was only in the book for 4 pages, but she managed to make me literally hate her during them by spouting some of the most racist shit I've ever seen. Disgusting.

The main problem with this book is that it wants to have its cake and eat it too. It doesn't want to commit to anything, so it just waffles around aimlessly and stupidly. This is probably my longest rant in a long time... and I'm sure to get some shit over it. But I don't care. This all needed to be said - and more, but I'm out of space. BYE!

...more
2

Nov 01, 2015

I have enjoyed other novels by Greg Iles, but this one was disappointing, on several levels.

For one thing, it was way too long; I found myself skimming through scenes that didn't seem to me to be either essential or interesting, including the ending, which should have been a high point but wasn't.

Several of the characters were portrayed in what to me was a very unrealistic manner. That may be because I am not familiar with the teenage sexual habits that Iles described in such great detail. I have enjoyed other novels by Greg Iles, but this one was disappointing, on several levels.

For one thing, it was way too long; I found myself skimming through scenes that didn't seem to me to be either essential or interesting, including the ending, which should have been a high point but wasn't.

Several of the characters were portrayed in what to me was a very unrealistic manner. That may be because I am not familiar with the teenage sexual habits that Iles described in such great detail. Maybe he is giving an accurate rendering, but I found much of it offensive and pandering to the least attractive aspects of sexual interaction. Maybe, by today's standards, I'm just a prude.

Finally, the portrayal of Mia, the teenage girl who is at the center of so many aspects of the story, was strangely missing the kind of internal depth that could have made her emotionally compelling. Instead she was left flat, a huge missed opportunity. ...more
5

Oct 30, 2018

Superbly written. A thick plot and every chapter has something exciting happening.
Good atmosphere and imagery to the setting. Awesome dialogue.

Cant think of anything bad to say about this one. Superbly written. A thick plot and every chapter has something exciting happening.
Good atmosphere and imagery to the setting. Awesome dialogue.

Can’t think of anything bad to say about this one. ...more
2

Nov 26, 2016

Greg Iles used to be one of my favourite authors. Mortal Fear still remains one of the top psychological thrillers I've read. Since then, most of what I've read from him has been quite good, steadily meriting 4-star reviews from yours truly, but none have measured up to Mortal Fear.
The Quiet Game I quite enjoyed, and yet after that, Iles had dropped off my radar. Blame Goodreads for exposing me to a gazillion more books. Whatever, that doesn't take away from the guy's talent and when I saw some Greg Iles used to be one of my favourite authors. Mortal Fear still remains one of the top psychological thrillers I've read. Since then, most of what I've read from him has been quite good, steadily meriting 4-star reviews from yours truly, but none have measured up to Mortal Fear.
The Quiet Game I quite enjoyed, and yet after that, Iles had dropped off my radar. Blame Goodreads for exposing me to a gazillion more books. Whatever, that doesn't take away from the guy's talent and when I saw some more recent reviews of his books I decided that Turning Angel needed
to be on my to-read list so I wouldn't forget about him again.

Well, I'm not sure what to say at this point. Is it me? Have I outgrown the thriller genre?
Here's the thing. Whenever I'm reading on the Kindle, if something strikes me as particularly brilliant, or particularly stupid, I'll type in a note. Most books that I've done this in have ended up with one or two notes in it.

I made 14 (FOURTEEN) notes in this, and none were references to anything brilliant.

Let me summarize the gist of these notes.
I remarked a few times about a) a "duh" moment from our supposedly intelligent protagonist, and b) Iles really dumbing things down for the reader with reminders of who did what or who this or that guy was.

I remarked about one girl who explains about how girls are these days, where they're so hot for middle-aged men.
Look: I have a 23 year old step-daughter. She used to work retail and was occasionally hit on by what she described as "old" men (we're talking barely middle aged here). Iles expects us to believe that most of these high-school girls want to hook up with middle aged men. To quote my Kindle note: Oh, please.
To quote my step-daughter: "GROSS!"
I also remarked on Penn Cage's repeated claims on how much he cared for his daughter and is resentful of his girlfriend's not spending enough time with her. Holy shit. At just about every point in the story Cage is taking off again and leaving his daughter with the babysitter once again,
not to mention putting himself in life-threatening situations. Pot. Kettle. Black.
Which brings me to the obligatory shoot-outs. At this point the story was reading like a...well...a cliched thriller. Maybe I shouldn't blame it for being what it is. But I will blame it for becoming over-plotted and bordering on stupid for the final 100 pages or so.

Turning Angel had so much promise for me because in the beginning it was the Greg Iles I remembered enjoying, and it seemed that this was another 4-star read. But as time went on I kept seeing stars drop off to the point were I just wanted it to be over.
Maybe it is just me. Perhaps I've grown out of the thriller genre. Whatever it is, my review reflects my feelings on this book. 2.5 stars but I am truncating at 2 because of the 14 instances I had to stop and gripe about something. ...more
1

Apr 03, 2010

I found this book disturbing on many levels not the least was the relationships between a high school girl and a doctor more than twice her age. Along with this, the doctor allows the girl to get into dangerous situations in helping him supply pain killers for his addicted wife.
Penn Cage, his friend whose life the doctor saved, is sexually tempted by his daughter's babysitter, Mia Burke. Cage also puts Mia, another high school student, in tremendous danger when she helps him unravel the I found this book disturbing on many levels not the least was the relationships between a high school girl and a doctor more than twice her age. Along with this, the doctor allows the girl to get into dangerous situations in helping him supply pain killers for his addicted wife.
Penn Cage, his friend whose life the doctor saved, is sexually tempted by his daughter's babysitter, Mia Burke. Cage also puts Mia, another high school student, in tremendous danger when she helps him unravel the mystery surrounding Mia's classmate's murder. For adult men, one a doctor and the other an attorney, it is unbelievable that they would place teenage girls in such dangerous positions. It is sickening, but believable, they would be tempted to have affairs with these young girls.

Having just visited Natchez, it was interesting to note various places which were familiar to me in the book. However, the portrayal of the town would have changed my travel plans if I had read the book before going. Iles does not paint a very pretty picture of his chosen place to live.
Iles's Natchez is rife with drugs, danger, gangs, murder, blood and gore, and it may be. Iles certainly will not be invited to speak to the Natchez Chamber of Commerce or Tourist Board any time soon.
I'm not sure if my problems with this book are because of what it is or because I'm not big on fictional murder mysteries.
What I found most interesting was not about the murder or those who solve it. I didn't care much about the characters, because I found the men shallow and the young girls just silly young girls playing sex games with older men.
The interesting part was about the legend of the Turning Angel in Natchez City Cemetery. That is a supernatural aspect and one that any Natchez resident can tell you about.
Rather than read the book, write the Natchez Tourist Office and request a brochure on the Turning Angel. It will save you all the agony of sloughing through the sleaze of Iles book.
...more
1

Mar 08, 2011

This could have been a good book. Leave out all of Mr. Iles' sexual fantasies involving underage girls and gymnastic-grade positions, and it would have been a decent mystery. (And a 350 page book instead of 644.)
2

Oct 25, 2011

When I started reading Turning Angel, I found myself arguing about reasons why I should like it.

Synopsis: In a small American town in the South called Natchez, a high school girl called Kate Townsend is found dead. Beautiful, intelligent, and popular, her death sends the town reeling. Penn Cage, for whom this book is the second in his series, finds even more surprises. Namely, that his long-time friend, Drew Elliot, admits to having sex with the deceased girl. And by the way, this isn't a When I started reading Turning Angel, I found myself arguing about reasons why I should like it.

Synopsis: In a small American town in the South called Natchez, a high school girl called Kate Townsend is found dead. Beautiful, intelligent, and popular, her death sends the town reeling. Penn Cage, for whom this book is the second in his series, finds even more surprises. Namely, that his long-time friend, Drew Elliot, admits to having sex with the deceased girl. And by the way, this isn't a spoiler - it's revealed in the back cover and the first couple of pages.

Pros

It's a really good thriller. Really. It's interesting, with lots of murders, keeps the pace going without having cheap thrills, and there's a lot of suspense from the constant surprises that are revealed about Drew and Kate's relationship. And everything keeps getting worse, not only for Drew, but for Penn as well.

It raises some questions for sexuality in small towns. Maybe drugs and so forth are just as prevalent, but hidden - and when something like a high-profile death occurs, the town explodes.

Penn's struggle about Kate's death is rather fascinating. I like how there's his visceral reaction against a married, middle-aged man sleeping with a vulnerable high school girl, be she ever so mature, and his admiration and friendship towards his friend the doctor, who is accomplished, and noble, and intelligent, and has helped so many people. But more on that later.

Cons

There's some distinct racist overtones in this book. Among the other suspects for Kate's death, there's a South American exchange student, a black pimp and drug dealer, and her Caucasian estranged boyfriend. And Drew, sure. But out of the other three suspects, guess who is never seriously implicated in the crime? (view spoiler)[And the South American exchange student is heavily implied to be responsible for a lot of the crazy things that the local high school gets into, not to mention that he's responsible for Kate's death. The black pimp also becomes a serious suspect, and he's definitely not portrayed in a flattering light. Whereas the original statutory rapist - because that's what Drew Elliot is - and Kate's boyfriend are both cleared. (hide spoiler)]

Drew is presented somehow as a better, more manly version of Penn. Sort of an idealized version, except for his little tendency to have sex with minors. It sort of works with the message that Greg Iles is trying to send here... I think... except that it's never really made clear why (view spoiler)[Penn rejects Mia's advances and Drew doesn't reject Kate's. Is it because Mia's less of a special little snowflake? Is it because Penn's girlfriend doesn't pop pills? Is it because he had Drew's example - and arrest - staring in his face? What was it? (hide spoiler)]

Something else that bothered me: I've attended an American high school, and it was nothing like the way it was portrayed here. I may have been sheltered, but I highly doubt that the rampant sex and drug use are so common in high schools, because someone with authority would have noticed.

And finally, let's talk about the middle-aged, married doctor man in position of power having an affair frequent, unsafe sex with a Harvard-bound, intelligent, athletic, mature vulnerable, fatherless, seventeen-year-old high school girl, shall we? As I've said, I tried to like this book, and on some level, I did. It's an excellent story, honestly. However, the message it sends across is repulsive on any moral level. Through the book, we see Penn find reasons to suggest that it wasn't as bad as just an older man having sex with a minor. He finds evidence that she was hardly a clean, good American girl and he even questions whether or not having an affair with Drew had added some measure of stability into the last days of her life. This is irrelevant. It doesn't matter if she had sex with every other person in her high school or how many other, less worthy people wanted her. Furthermore, there's no way of telling whether or not Drew having sex with her bettered her life, (view spoiler)[and considering that she bought drugs for Drew's wife, and it could definitely be argued that she would never have died if he hadn't started having sex with her, (hide spoiler)] it's perfectly possible to say the opposite: that having sex with Drew ruined her life. She was seventeen years old. Even if she was a few months from the age of consent, even if she was mature for her age - whatever that means, even if she was the one who seduced him, it. Doesn't. Matter. As the adult - and as her doctor - Drew Elliot was responsible for making sure that nothing happened. He failed. The law is in place for a reason, and anyone who can disobey it so flagrantly deserves to lose his marriage, his career, and custody of his son. No one gets the right to decide to break the law, because it's not the rapist's decision to make. If Drew gets away with sexual battery, then it would send a message to all the other members of his community, who seem as though they have leanings in the same direction. For that alone, Drew should go to jail, and rot there. There's another excuse that Drew makes, that even Kate's mother makes: that Kate and Drew were in love. So in response to that, all I can ask is: if you loved her so much, why couldn't you wait a few more months? Instead, their constant escapades to have sex makes it look like a case of midlife crisis meeting teenage lust rather than some tragic love affair. And personally, I never felt as though the two were truly in love. But even if they were, and in case I haven't said this clearly enough yet, there are no excuses for sex with a minor. None.

I apologize for the rant. Still, this is one of the overarching messages of the story, that there can be extenuating circumstances for statutory rape. In my personal opinion, that's simply not true, and acceptance of underage sex is one of those social problems that's considered controversial, even if the issue should be black and white. ...more
1

Sep 19, 2008

Sweet Christ. This book is basically a dirty old man's fantasy: what all 16-year-old girls really want--no, what it BEST for them, is to have sex with a 40-year-old man. I get it, Greg Iles, you're having a midlife crisis. Do I have to read about it?
1

Dec 09, 2008

I hated this book. It's filled with completely unrealistic story lines, characters that are patently unbelievable in a small Southern town, and the dialogue is extremely preachy and contrived. Additionally, the relationships between the protaganist and his babysitter has got to be a joke, right? She's constantly having this sophisticated and ultra-intelligent, yet sensitive and seductive conversations with Penn Cage, and it literally had me rolling my eyes. Also, if you have any sort of opinions I hated this book. It's filled with completely unrealistic story lines, characters that are patently unbelievable in a small Southern town, and the dialogue is extremely preachy and contrived. Additionally, the relationships between the protaganist and his babysitter has got to be a joke, right? She's constantly having this sophisticated and ultra-intelligent, yet sensitive and seductive conversations with Penn Cage, and it literally had me rolling my eyes. Also, if you have any sort of opinions of your own, regardless of what they might be, you may find it a little...oh I don't, repulsive, that this writer is basically using his fantasy for teenage girls as a medium to preach about race, how religion doesn't exist, and his leftist ideals every chance he gets. ...more
1

Mar 25, 2015

From BookList: Call this one a well-written misfire. Oh, so true.

I don't think I can even list all the reasons I dislike this book. So, I'll list only two: characters and plot. Pretty much sums it up for me. (I have to add that the conclusion ... no, just no.)

Plenty of one and two star reviews on page 1 that pretty much hit the nail on the head. Read them instead of the book.

*Looking at page 1 reviews, others mention that Dr. Drew with high school senior Kate and protagonist Penn with high From BookList: Call this one a well-written misfire. Oh, so true.

I don't think I can even list all the reasons I dislike this book. So, I'll list only two: characters and plot. Pretty much sums it up for me. (I have to add that the conclusion ... no, just no.)

Plenty of one and two star reviews on page 1 that pretty much hit the nail on the head. Read them instead of the book.

*Looking at page 1 reviews, others mention that Dr. Drew with high school senior Kate and protagonist Penn with high school senior Mia fall into sketchy territory. However, no one mentions what unrealistic characters these girls are. Take Kate: gorgeous blonde, sexually precocious and likes the kinky, valedictorian, cheerleader, state champion - two sports, meets up with Dr. Drew after 11 p.m each night for sex, heading to Harvard in the fall. So maybe she's that rare wonder girl. But no, Mia is a gorgeous brunette, salutatorian, head cheerleader and maybe homecoming queen (less sure about that one - could have been Kate but whatever), babysits till all hours (maybe she studies then?), and heading to Brown in the fall. Each girl moves on the father of the child she babysits. Now understand that neither Kate nor Mia make that move out of anything but love for these middle-age fathers. I can only suspend belief so far. ...more
5

Oct 28, 2015

Penn Cage returns in Greg Iles novel TURNING ANGEL. Five years have passed since Cage solved a civil rights case that dated back to the 1970s and he has settled into his new life as an author in Natchez, MI. Cage a former prosecutor in Houston is a widower and the father of a young girl. Now a successful author he finds himself a pillar of the community serving on the St. Catherines School Board among other official duties. The story begins at a School Board meeting when the school secretary Penn Cage returns in Greg Iles’ novel TURNING ANGEL. Five years have passed since Cage solved a civil rights case that dated back to the 1970s and he has settled into his new life as an author in Natchez, MI. Cage a former prosecutor in Houston is a widower and the father of a young girl. Now a successful author he finds himself a pillar of the community serving on the St. Catherine’s School Board among other official duties. The story begins at a School Board meeting when the school secretary informs the board that one of their students, Kate Townsend has been found dead where St. Catherine’s Creek washes into the Mississippi River. Townsend, a 17 year old senior, valedictorian, and athlete had won a scholarship to Harvard and now is the center of a murder investigation that will rock the Natchez community.

Dr. Andrew Elliot is the leading physician in Natchez with a stellar reputation, and like his friend Cage very involved in the community. After the body is found he asks his friend to be his lawyer. It seems that Elliot, entrapped in a poor marriage was having an affair with Townsend and was being blackmailed as he wanted to keep that information quiet. Further, it was Elliot who had found the body and had intimate relations with Townsend two days before the murder. It turns out that Townsend was pregnant and that her mother knew about the affair and did not disapprove. Penn takes on the case and is up against Shad Johnson, the black District Attorney who is no friend of Cage since he believed that five years earlier he had cost him election as Natchez’s mayor. At this time, the current mayor has resigned and a new election must take place within forty five days. Johnson sees the prosecution of a rich white physician as a way to reassert his bonifides with the black community and assure himself the mayor’s office. From this point on the novel which has already engrossed the reader gathers further steam.

Many of Iles’ characters from his previous Penn Cage novel are major players in TURNING ANGEL, particularly Shad Johnson who has his own personal political agenda and is a thorn in Cage’s side. A number of new ones emerge that are critical to the story. One of which is Quentin Avery, an elderly lawyer who suffers from diabetes. When Cage realizes that he is too close to his friend’s case he hires Avery who agrees to defend Elliot because of his disdain for Johnson and other personal reasons. Employing Avery as his mouthpiece, Iles’ views on black civil rights leaders emerges. He sees a crisis in black leadership and breaks down that leadership into a number of interesting categories. In today’s climate of racial tension with Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, MD, and events in New York, Iles’ comments are important. He points to a managerial type who pretend that race is not an issue. These individuals want a large white constituency, but also want to keep blacks loyal to them. They tend to be pragmatic and want blacks to join mainstream society. Then you have the black protest leader that is loud and proud that want personal status and power, i.e., Louis Farrahkan and Al Sharpton. They tap into an emotional appeal and can be dangerous. The last category he terms the “prophetic leader” who relies on intellect, someone like President Obama. The jury is still out whether any of these types can be successful, however, thus far their success rests on the pervasiveness of mass market culture and the failure of the black middle class. Throughout the novel the plight of the black community in the south is ingrained in the plot and provides insights into all aspects of southern society.

Another theme that pervades the novel is the drug crisis in America’s schools. Iles is a very competent chronicler of events as they relate to the use of heroin, pain killers and ecstasy. By weaving the drug scenario throughout his story he is trying to educate his readers about this crisis and that something must be done to make our schools safe. A lesser theme that Iles explores that emerges in detail toward the novel’s conclusion is that of the Yugoslavian civil war of the 1990s. Though briefly presented its horror still lives on in Croatia, Serbia and throughout the Balkans. Overall, Iles writes in exquisite detail that allows the reader to feel they are personally witnessing the action in the story. This is my second Penn Cage novel and I look forward to reading the other three. Iles is the type of writer that hooks his reader in the first few pages and does not let them go even after the book is completed.
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2

Jul 24, 2013

A page-turner that I put down halfway through because I felt like I needed a shower every time I read some more. The descriptions of the 40 something doctor having sex with a 17 year old turned my stomach, as did the vague rationalizations by the protagonist. Yuck.
4

Feb 12, 2011

A young lady turns up dead in Natchez, Mississippi and the town secrets are about to tear the place apart. A very fast paced page turner that ends each chapter with a teasing glance at things to come. This seems to hook the reader and pull you into reading just one mere chapter. Until I found myself losing sleep because I could not put the book down. A very good mystery that moves at a great pace.

************* Personal Note: I just had to do this. I read some very unfavorable reviews on this A young lady turns up dead in Natchez, Mississippi and the town secrets are about to tear the place apart. A very fast paced page turner that ends each chapter with a teasing glance at things to come. This seems to hook the reader and pull you into reading just one mere chapter. Until I found myself losing sleep because I could not put the book down. A very good mystery that moves at a great pace.

************* Personal Note: I just had to do this. I read some very unfavorable reviews on this book and I just thought that some of those folks may have fallen off the prude ship lollipop. This book, published in 2005, does involve a lot of sex, drugs and murder centered around a high school setting. It is now 2011 and all of this stuff is currently happening in our schools today. Our high schools. Junior high schools. And even our elementary schools! This is not something we can just bury our heads in the sand and say is not happening. Pay very careful attention to what your children are doing and give them all of the love that they need. And don't shoot the messenger. Greg Iles is a very talented writer that has brought a very sensitive issue to print. And I feel that he has done a fine job. Thank you. Now I will get off my soapbox and return to my reading. ...more
3

Jun 04, 2014

While this was an excellent book with great writing, just as the others have been, the subject matter made me very uncomfortable.
I actually look at Penn Cage a little differently now. He's come down a couple of notches.
Now, on to The Devil's Punchbowl.
5

Dec 04, 2016

4.5 Stars. This was an excellent follow-up to the first book in the Penn Cage Series, The Quiet Game. The events in this book take place five years after the first book and revolve around the murder of a girl two weeks before her 18th Birthday and the affair she was having with a married Doctor. Was he responsible for her murder or was there something else going on in her life that led to her murder? Call in Penn Cage, the doctor's best friend, to investigate.

This is quite an in-depth story with 4.5 Stars. This was an excellent follow-up to the first book in the Penn Cage Series, The Quiet Game. The events in this book take place five years after the first book and revolve around the murder of a girl two weeks before her 18th Birthday and the affair she was having with a married Doctor. Was he responsible for her murder or was there something else going on in her life that led to her murder? Call in Penn Cage, the doctor's best friend, to investigate.

This is quite an in-depth story with many layers that have to be unpeeled. This held my interest from the very beginning and was difficult to put down the further I got into the book. I like the character of Penn Cage and the link he had with his baby sitter, Mia, who helped him throughout this case. The further the story goes on the more ramifications that it has on the town of Natchez and Kate's murder isn't the only casualty of the period. It lost half a star for me for the indepth description of the effect of taking heroin, I didn't feel this was called for, otherwise I would have given it five stars. I would certainly recommend this series based on the first 2 books in the series. ...more
4

Apr 05, 2014

Natchez, MS is really a small town. Everybody knows everyone. So, when Kate Townsend, Queen of the small private school where Penn Cage attended, is killed, the whole town starts looking over its shoulder. And, when it becomes apparent Drew Elliot, a highly-esteemed doctor and Penn's best fried knows far too much about Kate, he becomes the prime suspect. Teenagers in Natchez, like teens around the world, are not as innocent as their parents were. And teens at St. Stephen's know way too much Natchez, MS is really a small town. Everybody knows everyone. So, when Kate Townsend, Queen of the small private school where Penn Cage attended, is killed, the whole town starts looking over its shoulder. And, when it becomes apparent Drew Elliot, a highly-esteemed doctor and Penn's best fried knows far too much about Kate, he becomes the prime suspect. Teenagers in Natchez, like teens around the world, are not as innocent as their parents were. And teens at St. Stephen's know way too much about sex and drugs. When Penn discovers Drew was having an affair with Kate, he is stunned, but knows Drew could not have killed her. But the power-brokers in Natchez want a swift conviction, especially the black DA who bears a strong animus against Penn from a previous case. Shad Jackson also sees Drew's conviction as his steppingstone to the mayoral seat. Penn wants only to save his friend and rescue Natchez from its decline. Interesting legal thriller with lots of twists and turns, intelligent plotting and characters. ...more
2

Mar 16, 2013

As a murder mystery this novel does keep you reading till the end. But that said, I did have problems with the adult men in positions of authority and respect being sexually involved with teenaged girls. This was very disturbing to me. The doctor, the high school coach and Penn as well came across as pretty sleazy and immoral, so I didn't like or care about these characters. Also, I didn't like that the author portrays the high school girls as over sexed nymphomaniacs. How demeaning and As a murder mystery this novel does keep you reading till the end. But that said, I did have problems with the adult men in positions of authority and respect being sexually involved with teenaged girls. This was very disturbing to me. The doctor, the high school coach and Penn as well came across as pretty sleazy and immoral, so I didn't like or care about these characters. Also, I didn't like that the author portrays the high school girls as over sexed nymphomaniacs. How demeaning and disrespectful to young girls. And, Penn Cage involving his babysitter in the investigation, allowing her to make dangerous decisions and deferring to her opinions didn't seem realistic either. This has been the only Greg Iles novel I have read and probably won't be reading any of his other books. I wasn't that impressed with this one. ...more
1

Aug 05, 2013

This audio book got us from Leemore, CA to home. While it kept my interest (I just wanted to see/hear how stupid it would actually get), it will/should not win any awards for literature. As a man, I am insulted by the characterization of men in general and their apparent lack of ability to think with their big head...not the other one...especially concerning teenage girls. Redeeming qualities? Maybe the middle aged professional(?) men of the world who live on their high school glory can come This audio book got us from Leemore, CA to home. While it kept my interest (I just wanted to see/hear how stupid it would actually get), it will/should not win any awards for literature. As a man, I am insulted by the characterization of men in general and their apparent lack of ability to think with their big head...not the other one...especially concerning teenage girls. Redeeming qualities? Maybe the middle aged professional(?) men of the world who live on their high school glory can come away feeling good about themselves. Come on...really? ...more
3

Nov 13, 2011

There are so many unlikeable and unethical people in this book, on all sides of the law. Its an ok mystery, long and complicated.

STORY BRIEF:
Drew is a medical doctor in his 40s. His wife is addicted to prescription pills. He falls in love with their babysitter Kate who is 17. They have frequent sex. Kate asks Drew to meet her. When he arrives he finds her dead, strangled, and raped. Drew moves the body. A blackmailer calls Drew wanting money. Drew is arrested for the murder of Kate. Drews There are so many unlikeable and unethical people in this book, on all sides of the law. It’s an ok mystery, long and complicated.

STORY BRIEF:
Drew is a medical doctor in his 40s. His wife is addicted to prescription pills. He falls in love with their babysitter Kate who is 17. They have frequent sex. Kate asks Drew to meet her. When he arrives he finds her dead, strangled, and raped. Drew moves the body. A blackmailer calls Drew wanting money. Drew is arrested for the murder of Kate. Drew’s longtime friend Penn investigates to find evidence to help Drew.

This is book 2 in the Penn Cage series. Penn was a district attorney for about fifteen years. Now he writes bestsellers based on crimes he’s seen.

REVIEWER’S OPINION:
Like his first book, this is an in-depth, complicated, well developed plot. It kept my interest. It’s an ok way to pass time. But I can’t say I “really liked it,” which is my definition for 4 stars. I didn’t find myself saying wow, or being pulled in so much that I didn’t want to stop reading. Yes there was one time I didn’t want to stop because I worried about how Penn would get out of a situation. But for most of the book I wasn’t as emotionally engaged as I would have liked. Maybe because I wasn’t drawn enough to Penn. I was more drawn in to some of Michael Connelly’s lead characters (another author). There are so many bad things going on here, that I needed something more special about the lead characters to provide positives.

With Drew’s actions I kept thinking “That is so dumb. Why did you do that?” He did a number of stupid/reckless things. Penn’s good instincts plus luck allowed him to uncover a lot of evidence. But he wasn’t cautious enough which caused him to lose evidence and to be put in harm’s way more than once.

The subject matter includes a lot of sex among teens. There is a lot of explicit talk about oral and anal sex. There is a bad guy who tortures people in ways I won’t repeat here. Those thoughts were hard to get out of my mind when I wanted to sleep. In one scene we hear about terrible rapes and other things the Serbs did to the Croatians. Race relations and corrupt politicians are also part of this book.

The author used a phrase I liked in both books 1 and 2. “The total tonnage of what we don’t know would sink an ocean liner.”

NARRATOR:
I had problems with the narrator Dick Hill. He went out of his way to use different voices for the various characters which can be good, but I did not like the following. 1. He overacted when he did Marco’s voice, reminding me of a cartoon character grinning and laughing with arrogance as he says bad things. Too loud, too laughing, too fake smiling pretending things are funny. 2. Dick would sniff before speaking a number of times. I doubt those sniffs were written into the work. I assume those were actor enhancements, but they felt too actorish. 3. Several female voices sounded too whiny. 4. But my biggest complaint was the southern accent for most of the characters. I’m sorry but I prefer generic TV anchor-type speech. I know this was set in the south, but hearing a very long book done with this “particular accent” wasn’t as fun. Dick did excellent narration for some of the Michael Connelly books set in California. He did not use a southern accent for those. Maybe a different person doing a southern accent would be better. I don’t know.

DATA:
Unabridged audiobook reading time: 17 hrs and 37 mins. Swearing language: strong, but rarely used. Sexual content: a lot of explicit content but mostly told after the fact rather than shown, but there were two specific scenes shown. Setting: 2003 Natchez, Mississippi, area. Copyright: 2005. Genre: mystery suspense. Ending: Reasonably happy for the good guys.

OTHER BOOKS:
I gave 3 ½ stars to the Penn Cage book #1 “The Quiet Game.” ...more
2

Jun 13, 2019

Audiobook narrated by Dick Hill

Book two in the Penn Cage series. Drew Elliott is a highly respected doctor in Natchez. He is also a life-long friend of Penns, having saved his life when they were boys, and he serves alongside Penn on the school board of their alma mater, St Stephens Prep. When the nude body of the schools valedictorian is found near a creek bed behind the school property, the entire community is shocked. But Penn soon discovers that Drew had an inappropriate and passionate Audiobook narrated by Dick Hill

Book two in the Penn Cage series. Drew Elliott is a highly respected doctor in Natchez. He is also a life-long friend of Penn’s, having saved his life when they were boys, and he serves alongside Penn on the school board of their alma mater, St Stephen’s Prep. When the nude body of the school’s valedictorian is found near a creek bed behind the school property, the entire community is shocked. But Penn soon discovers that Drew had an inappropriate and passionate relationship with the girl, and Drew’s likely to be accused of her murder.

Okay… Iles can write a compelling story with lots of suspects, many twists and turns in the plot, complicated motives and subplots, and a fast pace that keeps the reader turning pages. Penn’s background as a prosecuting attorney in Houston serves him well, but also complicates matters; he’s no longer practicing law, though Drew wants to maintain an “attorney-client” privilege to their communication.

Iles books are full of violence … and of the three I’ve read, particularly against women. Murder is always a violent crime, of course, but the sexual component herein is particularly disturbing. But I have a major problem with THIS book due to the basic underlying relationships. We have a doctor having a torrid love affair with a TEENAGER who is his PATIENT! And (view spoiler)[ her mother “approves” of this (hide spoiler)]?!!!??!!?!?! Then (view spoiler)[Penn is attracted to and kissing the teenager who babysits his daughter …. YUCK and DOUBLE (hide spoiler)] YUCK.

So the basic “thriller genre” gets 3 stars (even with the violence against women), but loses a star for the particularly distasteful – and disgraceful – underlying theme here.

And by the way … Penn is going on about how he wants to improve Natchez and bring more people to the community. But the author is sure doing a good job of painting it as a den of iniquity that no one would want to visit, with shoot-outs in hotels and drug cartels running rampant. Um, not my idea of a vacation spot (or a place to live).

Dick Hill does a pretty good job performing the audiobook. He sets a good pace and I like his voice for Penn Cage. He manages a decent teenaged Mia too, which is a bit surprising given his deep voice. But I really disliked the voice he used for Drew, who sounded whiny, cowardly and weak. No way I believed he was a big, strong man.
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