At long last, I cycled back to the beginning of Greg Iles series about Penn Cage. I accidentally jumped into Iles’ books in the middle of the Natchez Burning series, and I’ve basically read all over the place since then.
In The Quiet Game readers meet Penn Cage, a former DA making his living now as a novelist. Cage is returning home to Natchez, Mississippi, in the wake of his wife’s death. Once there, Cage can’t help but get caught up in a decades-old murder. On the surface, it seems like a civil rights race murder, not uncommon in Natchez’s tumultuous past. But as Cage keeps asking questions, it becomes clear that there’s a lot more hiding beneath the surface. Cage has the chance to publicly solve this case and also find some closure to his own past, but doing so might cost him everything.
This book read similarly to what I remember of the Natchez Burning series, packed full of action and unafraid to tackle issues of racism and age-old hatred. Iles doesn’t shy away from the dark history of his town, and though his characters can be rough around the edges, they come through the pages as very real, relatable people.
I will be honest, I did end up taking a break from this book, about two thirds of the way in, because Iles wasn’t leaving any of the romance up to the reader’s imagination (of course, by the time I stopped the only action left in the book was of the thriller variety, not sexual). While I recall sex in Iles’ other books, at times this did seem excessive and gratuitous. I get how the romance with the old flame was pivitol to the story, but a lot of it could have been left to the imagination.
Another warning for readers, Iles’ characters, as mentioned, are rough around the edges. They speak crudely, everything from swearing to slang and derogatory terms. And while I would say, for the most part, it’s in keeping with at least the stereotypical image of a southern town divided by race and stuck decades behind present day, it still may be hard or plain unpleasant for some readers.
All in all, while I enjoyed the story line of this book, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I recall enjoying that Natchez Burning series. And while it’s nice to get to know more about the character of Penn Cage, it’s probably not a book I will keep and reread.