Reviewed: November 19, 2008
By: Greg Iles
Publisher: Pocket Books
644 pages, $11.99
The thing that’s really impressed me about Greg Iles’ work so far
is that each of his books has been quite different from the one before. The
Footprints of God was a sort of techno-thriller with religious implications.
Blood Memory was a standard mystery, but with some really intriguing character
development and a complex back story. The title and cover of this one made me
wonder what he could be up to this time.
The angel of the title does appear in the book, but the bulls eye image of the
angel statue on the cover seems to me to be misleading. The other surprise was
that the novel was clearly a sequel, with back story references to another book
I had not seen. This book’s narrator, Penn Cage, also appeared in The
Quiet One, which I haven’t read and, according to the author’s website,
will be the central character in his latest novel, The Devil’s Punchbowl.
The last thing I would have expected from Iles was a series character, but he
seems to be doing just that.
Cage is a former lawyer who has retired to become a novelist. He either saved
a pile of money while in law or has done very well with his writing, because
he seems to have all sorts of time on his hands to pursue whatever takes his
fancy, and to spend time with his young daughter. Her mother is dead. There
is a woman in Penn’s life, but that relationship doesn’t seem to
be going well.
Mind you, his life is not nearly as messed up as that of his friend, Drew Elliot.
Drew, along with Penn, is on the board of directors of a small but elite private
school. Drew, just in time for his mid-life crisis, has been having an affair
with one of the senior students at the school. That would have been bad enough
if it had gotten out, but Kate Townsend’s murder leaves Drew as a prime
suspect and he turns to his ex-lawyer buddy for help in defending himself.
There are other possible suspects. One in particular is a nasty piece of work,
an exchange student from the Balkan war zone named Marko Bakic. It’s very
interesting how he fits into all of this.
Investigating on behalf of his friend causes Penn to turn over the rock which
is St. Stephen’s Preparatory School, and there are all sorts of nasty
things under that rock.
More disturbing however is Penn’s relationship with his baby-sitter, Mia,
who seems at first to be a sort of Nancy Drew character, but turns out to have
her dark side as well. Due to Penn’s need for childcare services and Mia’s
ability to provide insights into the hidden lives of the school’s students,
she and Penn become quite an effective team during the continuing investigation,
and Penn finds himself almost, but not quite, falling into the same tender trap
that captured Drew.
A good part of the tension in this novel is watching that subplot grow while
Penn, practically oblivious to the danger, invests more and more interest (which
he believes to be platonic) in Mia.
The resolution of all the plots is quite satisfactory. I’m enjoying this
author more with each book.