About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

“I” is for Greg Iles

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction meme hosted by Kerrie Smith at her blog, Mysteries in Paradise, reaches “I” this week. I have chosen to profile American author, Greg Iles.

He was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1960. His father was in charge of the U.S. Embassy Medical Clinic. The family returned to the United States and he grew up in Natchez, Mississippi.

He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1983 with a degree in English. Iles and John Grisham were both at Ole Miss at the same time. Grisham graduated in law in 1981.

He was a musician before he was a writer. After getting married (his wife is a dentist) he decided to turn to writing. It was a year where he spent 50 of 52 weeks on the road. On his website he discusses the start of his writing career:

When the band finally imploded, I was in Mobile Alabama at on New Year’s Eve, standing at a phone booth in 28-degree weather. I was 30 years old, my wife was in school, and I had $9,000 to my name. I drove home to New Orleans, shut myself in our apartment, surrounded myself with library books and started working 18 hours a day. Literally. I gave myself one year to write and sell a novel…… I used my best buddy and fellow thriller fan as a sounding board …… When I was finished, I had a manuscript 241,000 words long, almost three times the length of an average thriller today. I was consciously trying to write a bestseller at the time, using as my models Jack Higgins, Fredrick Forsyth, and Hans Hellmut Kirst. I owe a great deal to the agent who agreed to represent me then, Natasha Kern, of Portland, Oregon. Natasha organized an auction, and after a couple of nail-biting months, I had a 2-book deal with Dutton books worth $125,000— five times my annual income at the time.

His first book featured the Nazi, Rudolph Hess, in Spandau Phoenix. I believe I read the book but it is too long ago to remember details.

Since that time he has steadily turned out books. He has 13 books and is working on a Penn Cage book due for publication this year.

He was in a bad car accident in 2011 and lost part of his right leg. He has recovered and is back writing.

Iles is in a literary band, The Rock Bottom Remainders, with Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Stephen King, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount Jr., Matt Groening and James McBride.

I have read several of his books but not yet posted any reviews. Of writers I have read in the last 15 years I am probably most ambivalent about Iles.

I liked The Quiet Game with Penn Cage in Natchez.

I found Mortal Fear with a serial killer stalking victims over the internet an interesting thesis but not his best book.

Blood Memory was alright but my reading was affected because I do not believe in the reliability of recovered memories from personal experiences in court cases.

Turning Angel with Penn Cage I thought was skilfully done but the body count was high for me.

Third Degree was a thriller that had me race through the final 150 pages.

Out of the 5 books – 2 I liked a lot, 2 I would not recommend and 1 was alright. I think I would have to find favourable reviews I consider reliable before I would return to Iles.


  1. I only read one book by this author, back in my book club days (pre internet) - they had a monthly "crime and thriller" selection and one of Isles's books was it one month. I did quite enjoy it but when the supernatural came into it, and was the solution, I decided that once was enough. Can't recall the title, sorry.

  2. I've read a couple of his but I can't remember which ones and they didn't leave a lasting impression - I see them often in book stores and pick them up to read the blurbs but have not been tempted in a very long time

  3. Bill - Interesting profile, for which thanks. You know, I knew that Pearson, King, Barry and Tan were in The Rock Bottom Remainders but I didn't know that about Greg Iles.

    I'm not thoroughly familiar with Iles' work but it's really interesting to hear how he got started.

  4. Hmmm, thanks for your honest review. I find with all authors, there are some novels I like and some that I don't like as much.

  5. Interesting overview. I liked how he got started, and since he is from the South (sort of) and I am (was) too, that is interesting... But I will refer back here if I decide to give him a try.

  6. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. The liklihood of you reading another Iles book is clear.

  7. Bernadette: Thanks for commenting. It is equally clear on you reading Iles again.

  8. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It does not seem Iles is likely to be on your TBR pile.

  9. Clarissa: Thanks for the comment. I try to give up on an author if I do not like one of their books.

  10. Tracy K: Thanks for the comment. I will be interested in your observations on Iles setting books in the Southern U.S. From afar I think he provides a convincing portrayal of the South.