Click here to read reviewer Dave Roy's take on Turning Angel.
A follow-up to Greg Iles’ bestselling The Quiet Game, Turning Angel picks up Penn Cage’s story five years after the events of the first novel. Penn, a prosecutor turned author who has moved back to his home town of Natchez, Mississippi, with his young daughter after his wife’ death, is again thrown into the spotlight when his best friend from childhood is accused of murder. Drew Elliott is a well-respected doctor who has just admitted to Penn that he was having an affair with one of his seventeen-year-old patients, Kate Townsend—the same patient who has just been discovered dead in the local river.
Drew asks Penn to defend him against the charges. He admits that he found Kate’s body but insists he had nothing to do with her death. Kate was pregnant and the two intended to run off to Boston together, leaving behind Drew’s wife, Ellen, and his young son, Timmy. Penn agrees to help Drew defend himself and begins investigating life in the local high school with the help of his eighteen-year-old babysitter, Mia. He soon realizes that high school students in this day and age are much different than when he was a teenager. The local teens are involved in raves, the drug trade and kinky sex—all of which contributed to Kate’s death. Will Penn be able to unravel Kate’s twisted life in time to save his friend from the death penalty?
Greg Iles is known for his engaging thrillers that keep you up well into the night. I have to agree with this for the most part, but have found that his novels featuring Penn Cage are just a bit less thrilling than his other offerings. Perhaps it’s because I don’t care for Penn as a character. He seems smug and egotistical, and he is always running off and getting himself into mortal danger for no apparent reason while giving lip service about how much he loves his young daughter. Apart from the unlikable character of Penn, Turning Angel also seemed a bit less shocking than some of Iles’ other books, including his recent Blood Memory, which kept me turning pages until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Though you will be guessing up until the very end about what exactly happened to Kate Townsend, you probably won’t be flipping pages at a breakneck speed to get there.
Turning Angel is still a good novel and a satisfying read—it just doesn’t quite stack up to some of Iles’ best novels. It should also be noted that you can read Turning Angel whether or not you’ve read The Quiet Game, as the ending of the first novel is not given away. However, you will gain more insight into Penn’s character and his past if you read both books. If you’re like me, though, you may avoid a third novel featuring Cage if Iles decides to write one.