Reviewing the First Three Books in the Penn Cage Series

More than a decade ago, a good friend recommended The Quiet Game by Greg Iles. She informed me I would enjoy the history and characters in the story.

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for a new fiction series to begin as a break from politics. I saw The Quiet Game on a list and was reminded of my friend’s long-forgotten recommendation. Realizing The Quiet Game had become the Penn Cage series, I gave it a shot.

Less than two weeks later, I’m in the middle of the fourth book in the series.

The Quiet Game

The Quiet Game begins with Penn cage, and his young daughter are at Disney World. Cage is hoping the trip will help his daughter realize life will go on even though her mother has died from cancer.

When the trip to Florida is not helping either of them. Penn knows he must move back to his hometown of Nachez, Mississippi. Both he and his little girl need to be near his parents.

At home, Penn realizes his father, Dr. Tom Cage, is being blackmailed by a criminal cop.. When Penn realizes his father’s blackmail is related to a 30-year old murder of a black man, he must investigate.

With the help of Caitlin Masters, whose father owns the Nachez Examiner, Cage begins an investigation that will put his life in jeopardy and rock his hometown.

Turning Angel

Turning Angel revolves around the murder of high school senior Kate Townsend. On the surface, Kate is one of the last people many would expect murdered. She is beautiful, first in her class, and an excellent athlete. But fisherman discover her body floating in a river is the beginning of the surprises about to shock Nachez.

When Penn discovers Dr. Drew Elliot, a friend since childhood was having an affair with Kate, he can’t believe his friend capable of murder. But his years as a prosecutor won’t allow him to give his friend the benefit of the doubt.

When the autopsy shows Kate was raped prior to the murder and that she died pregnant, the whole town is on edge.

Investigating the rape and murder, Penn gets help from a high school senior working as his baby-sitter and starts to see what happened to Drew.

But Kate’s regular trips to meet a notorious drug dealer make the focus on Drew a bit too simple.

The Devil’s Punchbowl

In the Devil’s Punchbowl, Penn is mayor of Nachez. His dream of reforming the town’s segregated school system is going nowhere. Caitlin, who had become his lover, has left Mississippi in search of bigger stories and more culture.

Penn is thinking about quitting as mayor when a childhood friend named Tim calls him to the cemetery late at night with the promise of a big story.

Tim, a supposedly recovered drug addict, deals cards on a casino boat docked in Nachez. He tells Penn a sorted tale involving dog fighting, prostitution, and unpaid taxes. When Tim gets murdered, Penn finds his story more believable.

Working with Caitlin, a friend who was in special forces, and others, Penn decides to figure out what is happening at and around the casino.

When the US government asks him to leave his top suspect alone, Penn thinks about quitting. But he has never quit before.

Thoughts on the Books

I really enjoyed all three books. I appreciate the way Iles involves known historical events into his works of fiction. I also like the depth of the characters and their relationships. None of the characters is without their flaws.

I will say the main characters, as is too often the case, are too superficially perfect. They are mostly all very intelligent, good looking people from wealthy families. It would be nice to read more stories involving the heroism of people who weren’t born into extravagant privilege they don’t fully appreciate with physical gifts that make passage through life so much easier.

Setting aside the superficial nature of the main characters, the books are worth reading. The people, even though they are privileged, are interesting.

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