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.
Hill, one of the best interpreters of novels featuring thoughtful male protagonists under pressure, was an inspired choice for Iles's powerful tale of murder, sex, drugs, Deep South societal unrest and generational confusion. Respectful of the Natchez, Miss., atmosphere that permeates the novel, Hill uses a lyrical and literate drawl for the book's narrator, attorney Penn Cage. Iles's genuinely suspenseful and well-plotted thriller puts Cage through much emotional upheaval. Hill responds accordingly, with just the right mood-from the shock Cage feels when discovering that his best friend, respected and happily married Dr. Drew Elliott, had been sexually involved with a bright and beautiful 17-year-old and is now suspected of killing her to Cage's awe when he finds himself falling for his daughter's babysitter. Hill's Dr. Elliott has a slightly whiny voice, conveying a man on the edge of panic, but with more than a hint of a "Why me " attitude born of entitlement. The rest of the large cast is treated to the same careful interpretation. Shad Johnson, the politically ambitious black DA, has the sound of a smooth talker who is also an intellectual bully. Penn's dad has a soft-spoken, no-nonsense dignity. Hill is particularly effective in delineating an assortment of teenagers, among them babysitter Mia Burke. Hill has selected an attitude for her that mixes blas precocity with little girl neediness. This helps to underline the novel's theme: today's teens mature sooner than most adults realize and can pay a very high price for their early loss of innocence. Simultaneous release with the Scribner hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 31). (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Gripping Tale
Posted November 05, 2010 by Philip M Reilly , San Juan, PRI am always on the lookout for interesting books by authors who know how to enthrall the reader. Greg Iles more than fits that requirement. His creation of Penn Cage is the type of character that calls to our inner Don Quixote, always questing to right the unrightable wrong, even at the cost of losing a part of himself. My only comment is that the end in this novel was a little rushed, it left the reader wanting a closure of the action. Look forward to many more tension filled Penn Cage moments.
2 . The reason I started reading Greg Iles
Posted January 26, 2010 by Tara , Mission, BCI'm always on the hunt for a new author. When I find someone I like, I read everything they have ever written. Turning Angel was the first Greg Iles book I read. I could not put it down and look forward to every new "Penn Cage" novel. If you like mystery and suspense, you can find it in this book.
November 01, 2006
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Excerpt from Turning Angel by Greg Iles
Some stories must wait to be told.
Any writer worth his salt knows this. Sometimes you wait for events to percolate in your subconscious until a deeper truth emerges; other times you're simply waiting for the principals to die. Sometimes it's both.
This story is like that.
A man walks the straight and narrow all his life; he follows the rules, stays within the lines; then one day he makes a misstep. He crosses a line and sets in motion a chain of events that will take from him everything he has and damn him forever in the eyes of those he loves.
We all sense that invisible line of demarcation, like an unspoken challenge hanging in the air. And there is some wild thing in our natures that makes us want to cross it, that compels us with the silent insistence of evolutionary imperative to risk all for a glinting shadow. Most of us suppress that urge. Fear stops us more often than wisdom, as in most things. But some of us take that step. And in the taking, we start down a path from which it is difficult and sometimes impossible to return.
Dr. Andrew Elliott is such a man.
I have known Drew since he was three years old, long before he was a Rhodes scholar, before he went to medical school, before he returned to our hometown of twenty thousand souls to practice internal medicine. And our bond runs deeper than that of most childhood friends. When I was fourteen, eleven-year-old Drew Elliott saved my life and almost lost his own in the process. We remained close friends until he graduated from medical school, and then for a long timeýfifteen years, I guessýI saw him hardly at all. Much of that time I spent convicting murderers as an assistant district attorney in Houston, Texas. The rest I spent writing novels based on extraordinary cases from my career, which gave me a second life and time to spend with my family.