Craig Meads's Reviews > The Quiet Game

The Quiet Game by Greg Iles
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Dec 31, 2010

liked it
Recommended to Craig by: loved the second Penn Cage novel, this is the first Penn Cage novel
Recommended for: hard core Greg Iles junkies
Read from December 24 to 30, 2010 , read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** I started reading this book on Christmas Eve, 2010.

Page 64: I'm reading the Penn Cage books a bit out of order. I read the second book of the Cage series first. The title of that book is "Turning Angel". A very tense, gripping tale that I read very quickly. Since I read the second book first I know a lot about the central case of the first book. That central case being who killed Delano Payton and why? I'm also familiar with some of the characters.

After reading the first 64 pages of "The Quiet Game", I'm not quite as enthralled with it as I was "Turning Angel". However it's still a pretty good book.

Quoting directly from the book, the central case of this book is "Delano Payton was a black factory worker who got blown up in his car outside the Triton Battery Plant in 1968. It was a race murder, like a dozen others in Mississippi, only it was never solved. I'm not sure anybody really tried to solve it. Payton was a decorated combat veteran of the Korean War. And I'll bet you a thousand dollars we're sitting within five miles of his murderers right now." Those are the words of Penn Cage.

My running question for this book review. Who killed Delano Payton? The first suspect is Ray Presley, someone who seems to be working both sides of the law.

Page 100: This book is okay, but the more I think about it the less I'm impressed with it. I'm starting to find out why Cage fell in love with Caitlyn Masters. She certainly has a lot going for her, both physically and mentally.

However the plot is kind of lame. It's one of those story lines where someone is being blackmailed. The person being blackmailed, Tom Cage, could have gone to the police 25 years ago and resolved it. No, he paid the blackmailer and things have been getting worse ever since. So if Tom Cage, a very smart man and well respected doctor, had resolved the issue there would be no story.

When that is your foundation, your story is in for some trouble. Then there's some issues about how Penn and his father can end the blackmailing without involving the police. One foolhardy plan is that Penn will buy the gun, a very key part of Presley's blackmail plot. It's the main thing being hung over the head of his Dad. I hope this book gets better.

We don't find out much more about the Delano Payton case and frankly at this point I don't even care. Obviously I'm very disappointed so far.

Page 131: The book is getting a little bit better, but there are so many subplots now it's crazy.

Here's 7 subplots that were brought up or we found out more about in these mere 31 pages.

1) Penn and Caitlyn kiss for the first time, with her being the aggressor.
2) We meet Leo Marston, the man who tried to ruin Penn's father. I know this sounds simplistic, but he's a very bad man. He's also one of the most powerful men in town of course. Penn has a huge grudge against him. Marston is also known for his for his voracious sexual appetite.
3) Leo Marston's wife, Maude, accuses Penn of ruining her daughter. She's referred to with 3 different names: Olivia Marston, Livy Marston or Liv Sutter.. That's because of course Penn and Olivia were dating in high school. Olivia Marston is now married to a lawyer and living in Atlanta. Penn is confused how he ruined Olivia's life.
4) A German company, BASF, wants to build a chemical plant in Natchez that would bring a lot of jobs and money to the town and Marston. So most people don't want Cage to reopen the Payton case and upset the apple cart. Natchez is in the midst of difficult economic times.
5) We also meet Ike "The Spike" Ransom, he's a former high school football star. He's currently a cop with hidden motives. Ransom offers Cage his help and to be a bodyguard. Of course Ransom knows about the Payton murder and of course Penn's arch enemy, Marston, had something to do with the murder.
6) We also find out more about how crazy Ray Presley is.
7) Also Cage dreams of a woman swimming, he has trouble recognizing her. But he eventually does, it's Olivia Marston. She's his former great high school love. Also Penn's wife Sarah, who died of cancer, continues to haunt his thoughts.

Is that enough subplots for you? I hope some of these subplots get resolved soon, they are cluttering up the book.

Page 194: There are still too many subplots, in fact now we have one more. Cage is taking Caitlyn and his daughter to Houston, Cage is going to witness an execution. The convicted man is Arthur Hanratty, one of the last people Cage prosecuted as a Houston DA.

Now there's a high school girl that is fixated on him. She's his waitress when he comes in to where she works. She also had asked for and received an autograph from him. A couple of high school girls played a big part in "Turning Angel". Iles seems to have a thing for high school girls, hopefully nothing sexual happens. If it does, that would be a bit too pervy. I expect her role to expand, hopefully it's just platonic. Boy I had no idea what turns her character would take.

Ransom comes to the rescue of Cage, probably the first of many times. Cage pays Presley $75,000 for the gun that could be used for blackmail and then disposes of it. Cage also pays $2,000 to a former black police chief who has the police file for the Payton murder.

This is a bit simplistic story. There are too many coincidences and things that happen very favorably for Cage. It's all too conveinent. I keep on hoping this book gets a lot better. If not Iles writing quality took a huge leap from this book to "Turning Angel". I can't believe I'm seriously thinking about not finishing this book after how good "Turning Angel" was.

Page 286:

This book continues to be a roller coaster ride, that's not necessarily good. Penn, Caitlyn and Annie go to Houston for the execution. At the airport who do they run into? Well Olivia Marston (married name: Liv Sutter) of course. What are the chances of that? Caitlyn later suggested that it might not be a coincidence. What does Liv want? Obviously she has some stake in the battle between her father and Cage? She's on her own side, but besides that is she more loyal to Dad or Penn? What is her true agenda? If I were Cage I'd be very wary of her.

Here's another coincidence, Olivia is separated. She points out that both of them are available now. Although Cage is starting a relationship with Caitlyn Masters. Once everyone gets back to Natchez Olivia literally throws herself at Cage. Doesn't anyone play hard to get anymore? We find out that she has offered himself to him previously as well after their breakup. I have a feeling that this isn't going to turn out well for Cage. From reading book 2, I know that Cage hooks up with Masters.

On one hand I'm tempted to put this book down and read something else. On the other hand I'm very curious about how this story will end. I'm intrigued to see how, if he's able to, to resolve all the various subplots and the main story line. He's going to have to be a magician to pull it off.

My running question, who killed Delano Payton? I still don't know but know that several people had a hand in in. The current director of the FBI, former FBI agents, the most powerful man in town and a racist idiot.

Page 352: Penn resists Liv and as they are driving back to his house, guess what? It's on fire and of course it completely burns down. Somebody kidnaps Penn's daughter, takes her and drops her off about a mile away, and leaves a warning note with her. The note says to stay off the Delano Payton case.

I don't know how to put this nicely and it's not as bad as it sounds. This is one of the dumbest books I've ever read. I feel at this point that I've met nearly everyone in Natchez, Mississippi. Penn knows nearly every woman in town and most of the women desire him. Here's an example of what is driving me crazy. On page 336, Penn is having sex with Livy. Then on page 338, Cage is on a stakeout. Of course who shows up it's our good old friend Caitlyn Masters. Then on page 339, while they are on the stakeout, guess who jogs by. Jenny, the waitress, that seems to be fixated on him. It seems in Jenny's case it may be yet another one of those crazy coincidences. However I don't think so.

This book seems like every idea Iles had, both good and bad, and every character he thought of wound up in this book.

On this stakeout, Leo and Livy go to his law offices and haul out six boxes of his private files. Oh yeah, I forgot we are about to have a trial. Cage intentionally libeled Marston so that Marston would sue him. Then Cage could have access to many of his papers in hopes of finding incriminating documents about his role in the death of Delano Payton. (If Leo Marston is so intelligient, why would he still have all these papers?) Anyway Masters and Cage follow the Marstons back to their house to try and catch them in the act of destroying these papers. Which of course the Marstons do. Then a few more pages of silliness and unbelivability.

His family also has 4 bodyguards, one of which plays a significant role in the much better "Turning Angel". That would be Daniel Kelly. Oh yeah Cage meets Ransom at a warehouse. Two people show up to try and kill him. I'm getting ready for a tortotorus, spellbinding, intoxicating, head scratching, mind numbing final 210 pages. I'm sure several more women will indicate they want carnal knowledge of Penn Cage.

Who killed Delano Payton? What? Who is that? Of yeah, he was buried in all the characters and sub plots.

Page 436: I almost finished reading this book yesterday, but I wanted to let the story sink into my brain. I then might come to some conclusions about it. I probably will finish this literary equivalent of crack cocaine today. We are starting to find out some more about some of the way too many sub plots. The waitress Jenny doesn't have a crush on Penn, she mistakenly thinks he's her father. Livy is her Mom. To make your stomach churn, Livy and Jenny's father is the same man: Leo Marston. At least that's what Penn deduces from the evidence. You can't take anything for face value in this book.

We find out the real reason Delano Payton was killed back in 1968 was to send a message to the black community to "stay in line". A business wants to come to town and they want subserviant employees. (I shudder writing the two previous sentences.) In other words that may have reflected reality, but it's sort of a lame plot point. This is a book that has had too many lame plot points. Of course Marston owned that property where the factory would have been built.

Also Penn and Leo got into a fist fight, only for Penn to be saved by his security guy Daniel. Penn goes back to see Agent Stone in his cabin that is far away from society. Of course someone is trying to kill him and Stone in this rustic location. That is where this section of reading ends.

It looks like Ray Presley killed Delano Payton, but at this point does any reader care?

I read the final 128 pages and my eyes only rolled 3 or 4 more times. On one hand this story is very simplistic but on the other hand it's loaded with subplots.

Last we knew Agent Stone and Penn Cage were being shot at in Stone's home. Guess if they escape or not? Of course they do. Cage escapes death at least 3 or 4 times in this book these alleged ex-FBI, trained assassins apparantally forget how to shoot when Cage is around. (Like Dan Brown's Robert Langdon character they are impervious to such silly human things as death.) So Cage escapes gets back to the Baton Rouge airport where these bad guys with really bad aim try to get him again. Thanks to Daniel Kelly's help he escapes. In both "The Quiet Game" and "Turning Angel", Cage hires Kelly to be his security about halfway through this book. In book 3 I hope he hires Kelly at the start of the book.

Then Cage meets Ransom and we find out he was blackmailed into killing Delano Payton by Presley. Then of course the extremely busy Presley shows up on cue and kills Ransom. But guess who survives again, yes the immortal Penn Cage.

A few more eye rolls and then Cage is meeting lacivious Livy at the cemetery. We find out that Presley raped Livy multiple times and impregenated her. He's actually the father of the waitress Jenny. Her father isn't Penn or Leo.

After the cemetery (a few more eye rolls) Livy and Penn goes to the Marston home. As Livy slowly learns the truth about her father, she becomes so infuriated she agrees to help Penn get proof against him. But of course good old Leo catches them and guess who shows up again. Like a bad penny the amazing Ray Presley turns up again. There's a bunch of crap that goes on, ultimately Leo Marston kills his pet cockroach Presley. Speaking of cockroaches, of course Penn lives to fight another day.

Just a few hours later it's time for the slander trial of Cage vs. Marston. It's a big show down. Cage serves as his own lawyer, boy I wonder if he's going to win? (I hope you have saved up a few eye rolls, because you are going to need them now.) Of course Livy is one of the lawyers defending her father and of course she's a lawyer.

Cage has a very limited case until at the very last minute Agent Stone shows up. He confirms the whole Ray Presley/Del Payton conspiracy and Leo Marston's role in it. Then just as the judge is about to send the jury to talk about it, Super Waitress to the rescue. Jenny had tapes of Marston talking to someone confirming his role in the Del Payton case.

Marston withdraws the case, but of course he gets arrested. Cage is proven right again and everybody is happy. Livy goes back to Atlanta, Leo goes on trial and of course Cage ends up with Caitlyn.

Overall I'd give this book a B-, I give "Turning Angel" an A+. Iles has a way with words and Penn Cage is a good protagonist. However in this book the subplots, crazy coincedences, how both the good guys and the really good guys can survive almost anything is a bit overwhelming and distracting. I know this book is a work of question, but this book really asks you to swallaw a lot of things that don't make sense.

Cage must have used a better editor on "Turning Angel" because that book was a lot more entertaining. The characters were more believable. Book 3 "The Devil's Punchbowl" is next for me and I'm praying that that will be almost as good as "Turning Angel".
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Mila Hello! I really liked this book, but your interview had me cracking up because it made it seem so stupid.


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