10.13.2011

The dark world of Greg Iles

Greg Iles’ novels are like cats: each has its own distinct personality. But, Iles, as he describes one of his characters, is “a different breed of cat.” The villains of his imagination are like black cats, waiting, like the deepest shadows of the human soul, to cross our paths.

Iles goes beyond the imagined horrors in Stephen King’s mind. His bad guys exceed the power- and wealth-crazed antagonists of fellow Mississippian John Grisham. Iles has a frightening consciousness of the blackest soul, writing psycho-thrillers which consume you and propel you toward redemption – the knowledge that good must surely triumph over evil.

He inflicts innocent lives with the darkest Dickensian hearts, sweeping them into whirlppols, cesspools and bottomless pools of danger where revenge and survival are only possible by fighting evil with evil – a Freudian look into ourselves.

Only when evil is destroyed, can we emerge from humnity’s sinister underbelly into a world of light and hope, and therein lies Iles’ skill.

The only offering in my experience which comes close to this skill is David Lynch’s film, “Blue Velvet.” And, if you think Frank Booth personifies creepy, you have much to learn from Iles.

“Diabolical” and “a tour de force of suspence,” People magazine describes one book. The Memphis Commercial-Appeal says of another, “A novel which could have as easily and terrifyingly been set in the Kansas of Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’” “The pace is frenetic, the fear and paranoia palpable, and the characters heartbreakingly honest,” a Cleveland Plain Dealer reviewer writes. No need to single out titles: these reviews cover Iles’ bibliography.

The following titles, available to me from Talking Books for the Visually Impaired, should be read in chronological order as Iles builds on the stories of on-going characters:

The WWII Books:

Spandau Phoenix, 1992
Black Cross, 1995

The Crime Thrillers:

Mortal Fear, 1997
The Quiet Game, 1999
24 Hours, 2000
Dead Sleep, 2001
Sleep No More, 2002
Blood Memory, 2005
Turning Angel, 2005
True Evil, 2006
Third Degree, 2007
The Devil's Punchbowl, 2009

These are the titles I anxiously await:

Unwritten Laws: The Bone Tree (Announced for 2011, tentative title)
Unwritten Laws: The Trial of Tom Cage (Announced, tentative title)

***

A little background on Iles:

• Born in 1960 in Stuttgart, Germany, where his father was a physician and ran the U.S. Embassy Medical Clinic.

• Reared in Natchez, Mississippi. He married his high-school sweetheart, and they currently reside in Natchez.

• A graduate of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), he played guitar and sang with the rock band “Frankly Scarlet” for eight years before beginning his writing career.

• He is a member of the Rock Bottom Remainder, a rock band formed with noted authors, including Scott Turow, Stephen King and Amy Tan.

• Eight of his books have appeared on the NYT bestseller list.

Once you have learned more about Iles, it is easy to spot the autobiographical elements in his books.

Iles’ personal favorites are “Mortal Fear” and “The Quiet Game:” mine are “Black Cross” and “The Quiet Game.”

GREG ILES OFFICIAL WEB SITE

6 comments:

Leslie Parsley said...

Have to confess I've never heard of him but have bookmarked his web site as I'm always looking for new titles to read. Thanks.

Octopus said...

If I were a book promoter or publicist, the sales pitch would almost be a palindrome.

Leslie Parsley said...

Octo: And your point is? I don't understand.

Octopus said...

"Sell Iles" (I did say "almost")

B.J. said...

Octopus: Is it emit time (palindrome) – all that ink clouding around your head? I am simply saying another palindrome, “Read, dear.”

Octopus said...

Ink? Hell, it must be the camouflage.