|Greg Iles: The Quiet Game|
(Paperback), ISBN 1568250770
Greg Iles practices to deceive as he spins tales, ranging from a serial killer who stalks the Internet to an antebellum city with unsolved mysteries. Iles's benign deceptions pay off as his novels Mortal Fear, Spandau Phoenix, Black Cross and 24 Hours receive best-selling status and glowing reviews in The New York Times.
In The Quiet Game, Iles weaves a masterful web of intrigue, danger, murder, secrets, greed, racial conflict and romance. Protagonist, Houston prosecutor-turned-novelist Penn Cage, returns to his Southern roots in Natchez, Miss., looking for peace after the death of his wife. Instead, he discovers his own family trapped in a web of old secrets, vengeance and intrigue.
The Natchez community seethes under its elegant façade, and Penn sets off a firestorm when he resurrects an old, unsolved murder. Priorities pull him back to family and friends, while desires draw him away. Old and new loves meet and confuse this mere mortal as he struggles with reality, fantasy and strong-willed women. Must he lose everything before he realizes the truth that will set him free?
Iles' calm philosophizing and theorizing helps balance the violence, angst, Southern secrets and legal sparring of this multi-dimensional novel. You could describe this novel as everything from courtroom drama, legal thriller, murder mystery to a rousing Southern Gothic. And you would be right on every count.
The author, a Natchez resident, incorporates the festering wounds of race relations with the history of Natchez, a city that survived the Civil War intact, and remains "a jewel of the antebellum South." But, Natchez struggles to maintain its antebellum excesses as source after source of revenue dries up, putting pressure on the city fathers to bring in new resources.
Written in first person/present tense, the story draws readers into the immediacy of the action. We walk, duck bullets and fall in love, side by side with Penn Cage. Suspense builds until the final world-shaking revelations. Iles flirts with over-the-top descriptions and situations but pulls back just in time.
Secondary characters adhere to the Southern stereotypes, but Penn Cage makes a memorable hero. Caitlin Masters, a most original character, reflects the new woman -- young, powerful, career-oriented, fighting her father's dictums. Her character provides an excellent foil for Olivia Marston who fights similar fights, but with a subtle difference. The characters' names -- Penn Cage, Olivia, Ruby, Peggy, Tom, etc. -- offer yet another level of meaning to their portrayals.
The Quiet Game, a well-crafted novel, written in rich prose with careful attention to underlying themes, deserves best-seller status.
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