Although it takes place in Natchez, Miss., and is flavored with the violence and seamy undertones of a Southern Gothic, this fourth thriller by Iles (Spandau Phoenix) owes just as much to a familiar parallel universe where wealthy male lawyers double as tragic heroes, women are invariably smart and attractive, and trials are by definition "high profile." After his wife's death, Penn Cage, a former Houston prosecutor and a bestselling suspense novelist, retreats to his parents' home in Natchez with his grieving young daughter. The healing process is interrupted when Cage learns that someone is blackmailing his father, a saintly family doctor who once made a lethal mistake. In tracing the source of his father's moral dilemma, Cage stumbles upon a trail of lies surrounding the unsolved murder of a black man in 1968. He determines to reopen the case, even though his antebellum hometown is smoldering with racial tension. With the assistance of Caitlin Masters, the attractive, smart and ambitious publisher of the local newspaper, Cage gradually uncovers an intricate conspiracy that reaches up to the highest levels of the FBI. Forced to confront powerful Judge Leo Marston, who nearly destroyed his father in pursuing an unrelated, unfounded malpractice accusation decades before, Cage must also face Marston's daughter, Livy, his old high school sweetheart, who tries to persuade Cage to let sleeping dogs lie. It is difficult at times to sympathize with Cage, who proselytizes about truth, justice and obligation, yet destroys evidence to protect his father and fails to properly shield his loved ones as he single-mindedly pursues the case. Still, this ably crafted, richly atmospheric legal thriller is engrossing, and readers will forgive Iles's protagonist a few shortcomings. Agent, Aaron Priest. Major ad/promo; 15-city author tour; British rights to Hodder Headline; audio rights to Recorded Books. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
After his wife dies, all Penn Cage wants is to return to some peace and quiet in his home town of Natchez, MS. Instead, he finds that his father is being blackmailed and that the judge on a long-unsolved murder case might just be implicated. From the author of the best-selling Spandau Phoenix. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.