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True Evil: A Novelby Greg Iles
Synopses & Reviews
If you wanted to kill your spouse and get away with it, you had to do something truly ingenious: something that wouldn't even be perceived as murder. And that was the service that Andrew Rusk had found a way to provide. Like any quality product, it did not come cheap. Nor did it come quickly. And perhaps most important of all, it was not for those with weak constitutions. Demand was high, of course, but few people were truly suitable clients. It took a deep-rooted hatred to watch your spouse die in agony, knowing that you had brought about that pain. But on the other hand, some people bore up remarkably well.With these words, New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles returns to his trademark Southern milieu in this terrifying thriller, an unnerving tale of evil lurking beneath the veneer of idyllic suburban life. Brimming with the masterful suspense and intense psychological drama that made Turning Angel, Blood Memory, and The Quiet Game bestsellers, True Evil tells the chilling story of a divorce attorney who may be orchestrating the deaths of his clients' spouses, bringing new meaning to the phrase 'til death do us part.
Dr. Chris Shepard is thirty-six years old, newly married, and well on his way to a perfect life. Or so he believes. But that future is forever cast into doubt the day Special Agent Alexandra Morse walks into his office and drops a bombshell: Dr. Shepard's beautiful new wife is plotting his murder. Shepard is so shocked that he almost throws Agent Morse out of his office. Yet once he is alone, doubt begins to gnaw at him. Paranoia magnifies the small cracks in his marital relationship, and soon he can have no peace unless he knows the truth. When Agent Morse reappears, Chris agrees to act as bait to help her unravel the divorce lawyer's scheme, which may already have cost nine unsuspecting spouses their lives.
At the center of the mystery lies a maddeningly simple question: If these people really were murdered, why can't the FBI prove it? Rigorous autopsies have uncovered no forensic evidence of foul play, and the police believe no crimes have occurred. As Dr. Shepard and Agent Morse struggle against an invisible adversary, Shepard realizes that he's working with a desperate woman. The reason: the killer's last known victim was Alex Morse's sister, who from her deathbed accused her husband of murder and extracted a vow that Alex save her ten-year-old nephew from his father. This has driven Alex to risk both her life and her career to fulfill that vow. But Chris Shepard soon feels desperation of his own. As he probes his wife's hidden past, he is confronted by the probability that the woman he loves wants him dead.
He has adopted her son and given her everything he has to give, and yet somewhere out there, a killer with the brilliance to outwit the top forensic scientists in the world is closing in on him.
"Smooth prose, psychological depth and crafty plotting lift bestseller Iles's latest suspense thriller, which puts a fresh twist on a familiar theme — the cat-and-mouse game between an FBI agent and a fiendishly-clever serial killer. One personal tragedy after another has struck Alexandra Morse, a rising star in the FBI who specializes in hostage negotiation: her father's shooting death in a robbery, her mother's diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer, and a misstep on the job that left her face scarred and a fellow agent dead. Now Alex's sister, Grace, lies dying in a Jackson, Miss., hospital after suffering a stroke. Alex arrives from Washington just in time to hear Grace say that her husband has murdered her. After Grace's death, Alex learns that Dr. Eldon Tarver, a brilliant scientist in need of funds for research into developing a biological superweapon, has teamed with a Mississippi divorce attorney who offers select clients the opportunity to avoid a protracted court fight by arranging for their spouses to die. When Alex identifies the next intended victim, Dr. Chris Shepard, she goes undercover as one of the idealistic doctor's patients and soon finds herself in a race against Tarver as well as her own superiors, who have not sanctioned her investigation. This pulse-pounder is sure to be another bestseller for Iles (Turning Angel)." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"With the two most recent of his novels, Greg Iles has shown that he's among the most talented and ambitious of contemporary thriller writers. The two — last year's best-selling 'Turning Angel' and his new 'True Evil' — are both set in Mississippi, where Iles lives, and both emphasize place and character, but they are miles apart in concept. 'Turning Angel' focused on the ill-fated romance... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) of a 40ish society doctor and a sophisticated girl of 18, set against a panorama of abundant sex and drugs. It was an alarming portrait of today's youth, but its characters were more or less normal upper-middle-class Americans. It's a story that might have been written by a latter-day John O'Hara who had turned his attention to 21st-century Southern decadence. But 'True Evil,' as its title suggests, is something else. It conjures monsters. It's scary, Gothic and sometimes over the top. Iles isn't as original as Thomas Harris, whose mad genius is incomparable, but the novel's more horrific moments reminded me of 'The Silence of the Lambs' and 'Hannibal.' We start with FBI Special Agent Alex Morse, whose world has collapsed. Her ex-cop father was killed during a holdup, and her mother is dying of cancer. Although she's a brilliant hostage negotiator, Alex has bungled an encounter, leaving her face scarred by buckshot and glass, and her soul scarred as well. On top of all this, she is summoned home to Jackson, where her beloved sister has suffered a stroke. Moments before dying, the sister whispers that her husband has killed her. The husband is a rich, arrogant developer, and Alex does not doubt her sister's charge, so she sets out to prove his guilt and free her young nephew from his custody. Soon, acting without FBI approval, she has gathered evidence of a sinister plot. She learns that her brother-in-law and eight other wealthy individuals whose spouses died unexpectedly all had suspicious financial dealings with the same Jackson divorce lawyer. She begins to suspect — correctly — that the lawyer has persuaded the people that he can end their marriages in a less costly way than divorce: For a price, he will have their spouses killed with impunity. The lawyer is loathsome, but the true evil emanates from his partner, the Southern-fried psychopath Dr. Eldon Tarver, a brilliant scientist who has learned how to induce both cancer and strokes in people in ways that cannot be detected. The men's scheme — divorce by murder — is both cynical and lurid in the extreme, but Iles develops his characters, and the medical details, with such care that it becomes plausible. The huge, bearded Tarver is also a serious student of lethal snakes that he sometimes uses to terrorize or kill those who oppose him — and he himself kills as coldly as any coral snake or cottonmouth. Another element of his madness is that he's a patriot, a kind of global Darwinist who sees war with China as inevitable and is therefore developing a killer virus that his patrons in government will use to wipe out China before they nuke us. The serial killings are simply the way he finances his contribution to national security. Alex Morse teams up with a good-guy doctor whose rich, sexy, bored wife has targeted him for death — and who, in the course of the novel, is made to be violently ill. Alex is fired by the FBI for her one-woman crusade and becomes a rogue agent, out there on her own, but Iles makes her, and her love for the nephew she is determined to save, entirely believable. He nicely balances the book's monsters with the decent people who nurse their dying mothers and coach their children's Little League teams. Iles takes his title from the saying that 'True evil has a face you know and a voice you trust,' and demonstrates its truth. The novel leads, inevitably, to a showdown between the FBI agent who is fueled by love and the scientist who burns with malice. It's a wham-bam ending that features snakes, SWAT teams, helicopters, speedboats, government assassins and heroic sacrifice, all with a child's life in the balance. 'True Evil' will be too dark for some readers, but for those who enjoy lush, full-tilt thrillers, it will be engrossing and fun." Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"True Evil will be too dark for some readers, but for those who enjoy lush, full-tilt thrillers, it will be engrossing and fun." The Washington Post
"True Evil begins in promising enough fashion, but Iles sends his story ricocheting in a dizzying manner, piling on unnecessary subplots along the way....As a fan of Iles' previous work, I hope he takes more time — and care — with his next book. (Grade: C)" Entertainment Weekly
New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles returns with this smart and atmospheric work. Dr. Chris Shepard, a busy young doctor in Natchez, Mississippi, has never seen his new patient Alex Morse before. But the attractive young woman with the scarred face has come to Dr. Shepard's office on a mission to rip his idyllic life inside out.
About the Author
Greg Iles was born in 1960 in Germany. He founded the band Frankly Scarlet, plays guitar for the Rock Bottom Remainders, and is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including Blood Memory and 24 Hours. He lives in Natchez, Mississippi.
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