Is there space in the overcrowded courtroom for one more writer of sharp, very suspenseful legal thrillers? Yes--if that writer is Greg Iles, who has proven in such varied efforts as Black Cross
, Mortal Fear
, and Spandau Phoenix
that he knows how to squeeze the last drop of suspense out of all sorts of situations.
Iles immediately makes us feel both sympathy and empathy for his glossy hero, Penn Cage--a former ace Texas prosecutor turned suspense novelist whose sales are up there in the John Grisham Himalayan range.
Trying to cope with the recent death of his wife, Cage takes his 5-year-old daughter to Florida's Disney World, where the child sadly sees visions of her mother everywhere in the fantasy-filled environment. Wouldn't a trip to his parents' stately home in Natchez be more soothing for all concerned? Wrong, as it turns out--and before Cage can catch his breath, he's deeply involved in several dangerous matters. His father, a dedicated doctor, is being blackmailed for a past mistake in judgment, and a powerful judge (who just happens to be the father of Penn's high school sweetheart) has a nasty personal agenda of his own. Then there's the unsolved 1968 murder case of a black man, which Cage insists on reopening with the help of an attractive, ambitious newspaper publisher.
Iles does for Natchez what John Berendt did for Savannah in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, creating a gothic Southern landscape where elegance and depravity walk hand in hand. --Dick Adler
From Publishers Weekly
Although it takes place in Natchez, Miss., and is flavored with the violence and seamy undertones of a Southern Gothic, this fourth thriller by Iles (Spandau Phoenix) owes just as much to a familiar parallel universe where wealthy male lawyers double as tragic heroes, women are invariably smart and attractive, and trials are by definition "high profile." After his wife's death, Penn Cage, a former Houston prosecutor and a bestselling suspense novelist, retreats to his parents' home in Natchez with his grieving young daughter. The healing process is interrupted when Cage learns that someone is blackmailing his father, a saintly family doctor who once made a lethal mistake. In tracing the source of his father's moral dilemma, Cage stumbles upon a trail of lies surrounding the unsolved murder of a black man in 1968. He determines to reopen the case, even though his antebellum hometown is smoldering with racial tension. With the assistance of Caitlin Masters, the attractive, smart and ambitious publisher of the local newspaper, Cage gradually uncovers an intricate conspiracy that reaches up to the highest levels of the FBI. Forced to confront powerful Judge Leo Marston, who nearly destroyed his father in pursuing an unrelated, unfounded malpractice accusation decades before, Cage must also face Marston's daughter, Livy, his old high school sweetheart, who tries to persuade Cage to let sleeping dogs lie. It is difficult at times to sympathize with Cage, who proselytizes about truth, justice and obligation, yet destroys evidence to protect his father and fails to properly shield his loved ones as he single-mindedly pursues the case. Still, this ably crafted, richly atmospheric legal thriller is engrossing, and readers will forgive Iles's protagonist a few shortcomings. Agent, Aaron Priest. Major ad/promo; 15-city author tour; British rights to Hodder Headline; audio rights to Recorded Books. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.