Thursday, June 11, 2009

Third Degree

Third Degree
© 2007 Greg Iles
385 pages

After being utterly captivated by The Quiet Game last week, reading more of Iles was a foregone conclusion. Although I had intended to read the fantasy-like Sleep No More, my sister -- who introduced me to Iles -- currently has the book checked out, and so I went with his Third Degree. Unlike The Quiet Game, Third Degree is written in the third person. What is most remarkable about the book, I think, is that its entire plot takes place within the span of one day -- one day in a suburban household that begins on a slightly unusual note but which ends with a body floating in the river and a destroyed helicopter. The story is told primarily through the eyes of Laurel Shields -- a special needs teacher whose household will be become a warzone as the plot develops -- and Danny McDavitt, a retired combat pilot who now gives flight lessons and who has recently broken off a year-long affair with Laurel. (One other character develops a voice after the plot thickens.)

That Laurel has been engaged in an affair is one secret, but her husband Warren has skeletons in his closet as well, skeletons that will lead to arson and hospitalized federal agents -- but today is when both secrets will come to the surface with terrifying and (for some) deadly results. Iles skillfully interweaves a marital drama with a crime-and-punishment police drama to create a story that recquires both to create a "perfect storm" of sorts. The result is also something of a psychological drama, as one of the characters goes through a developing mental hell that forces the reader to constantly reform how they perceive him. The book was as riveting as The Quiet Game, if not as textured: this was shorter and felt more like a Grisham-esque thriller. I enjoyed it tremendously.

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