Greg Iles: Action-packed plot keeps readers up late

By Terry Mathews | News telegram Arts Editor

There are many reasons to like best-selling author Greg Iles. He tells good stories. He does his homework. He’s consistent. And, unlike some of his peers, he actually writes the words we read. 

True Evil
By Greg Iles
528 pp. Scribner. $25.95.

One of Iles’ strong suits is his ability to make his characters practically jump off the page. They’re real, not cookie-cutter, formula action figures. His good guys have flaws and his bad guys usually have some reason driving their twisted behavior. 

In his latest offering, Iles wastes no time in getting the action started. It begins with the first sentence: 

�Alex Morse charged through the lobby of the new University Medical Center like a doctor to a code call, but she was no doctor.��

Morse is a hostage negotiator for the FBI. Her sister, Grace, is dying in a Jackson, Miss. hospital, having collapsed at her son Jamie’s Little League baseball game. 

Morse’s father was killed five months prior, her mother is suffering from ovarian cancer, and her own professional future is in doubt. 

She botched a negotiation, was shot in the face, and in the melee, one of her colleagues took a fatal shotgun blast to the chest. 

It gets worse. On her deathbed, Grace accuses her husband Bill of unspeakable evil. Grace begs Morse to protect young Jamie from the coming madness. 

It takes five weeks of juggling a flailing career and visits to her mother’s sickbed, but Morse uncovers the hidden links from her brother-in-law to the “true evil” of the title. She has the pieces of the puzzle, but she can’t make them fit without the help of the evil’s next victim, Chris Shepard, M.D. 

How Morse convinces young Dr. Shepard that his life is indeed in jeopardy and how the two make an uneasy alliance in their fight to unmask the killers is the basis of the plot and makes for more than a few nail- biting moments. 

I hope to see more of Alex Morse and Dr. Shepard. They make a good team. 

Few writers do suspense like Iles. He’s taken some heat from critics for stretching the plausibility angle, but in “True Evil,” Iles has done his homework, and his theories don’t seem so much like fantasy. Be afraid. Be very afraid. 

Do not start this book if you have a lot of items on your to do list ... like housework or laundry or errands ... or sleep. Iles is on top of his game here and the urgency of the story makes it nearly impossible to stop reading until the last page is turned.


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