Greg Iles is a bestselling American author of over 20 mystery novels, many historical in nature. His World War II, Mississippi, and Penn Cage series have been read by people all over the world in several languages. He also wrote the script for the movie 24 Hour, which eventually was renamed as Trapped.
Here are the updated Greg Iles books in order of reading.
New Greg Iles Books
World War II Series
Penn Cage Series
includes also the Natchez Burning trilogy
- The Quiet Game, 1999
- Turning Angel, 2005
- The Devil’s Punchbowl, 2008
- The Death Factory, 2014 (novella)
- Natchez Burning, 2012 (part of the Natchez Burning trilogy)
- The Bone Tree, 2015 (part of the Natchez Burning trilogy)
- Mississippi Blood, 2017 (part of the Natchez Burning trilogy)
Standalone Greg Iles Books
- Mortal Fear, 1997
- 24 Hours, 2000 (Trapped)
- Dead Sleep, 2001
- Sleep No More, 2001
- The Footprints of God, 2001 (Dark Matter)
- Blood Memory, 2005
- True Evil, 2006
- Third Degree, 2007
- Cemetery Road, 2019
Who Is Penn Cage / Series Summary
Penn Cage is a former prosecuting attorney in Houston, Texas. He is the current Mayor of Natchez, Mississippi and also a writer. After his wife, Sarah, died, he decided to move back home to Natchez to deal with his grief of loss and help his daughter, Annie, recover from the loss of her mother as well.
The Quiet Game
After going back home with his daughter, Penn Cage learns that his father is blackmailed, so he gets drawn into the case. All this takes him back to a racial case from 30 years ago from 1968 of black citizen. He also meets here Livy Marston, his former love whom he never thought he would meet again. The more Cage investigates, the more people are trying to keep some secrets hidden forever, even secrets that the FBI was involved in back in the day.
The book is a prequel to the Natchez Burning, and as such, it can be read as a standalone. In fact, it is best to read the entire Penn Cage series in order.
By now Penn Cage has won his main case from the first book, and now he has decided to remain in his hometown where his daughter can grow up in peace. However, things are not to be peaceful when the body of a prep school student is found and Cage is asked by his best friend, Drew Elliott, to help with the case, especially since he is accused of the crime.
The Devil’s Punchbowl
It seems Natchez has a gambling problem, and it’s up to Penn Cage to sort it out if he can. Instead, he is tasked with helping bring back to town a luxurious new gambling boat, the Magnolia Queen. But when a connected friend who presented him with proof about the dangerous gambling situation has been murdered, Cage knows that the stakes have been raised because now, even his own family is in danger. His only allies in this war are his former lover, his father, and a few trustworthy friends.
The Death Factory
The Death Factory is a short story that bridges the first two books and the upcoming Natchez Burning trilogy. Cage is still in Houston and is called back by his father who is on deathbed due to a heart attack and has a secret to share. By the time he goes home, his father is better and has seemingly forgotten the secret, saying there is nothing to say. The story happens before Natchez Burning.
The fourth Penn Cage book and the first in the Natchez Burning trilogy, takes Cage on a quest to save his father who has been accused of killing a former colleague and nurse, Viola Turner. Cage knows his father is innocent, however, he is not talking. And in order to save his dad, Penn Cage needs to know what really happened on that fateful day when Viola died.
The Bone Tree
The book is a straight follow-up to Natchez Burning, after Penn’s father became a fugitive from the law. Now, his family is torn apart, and it’s up to Penn to try to find his father and figure out what is going on. However, in the process, he has stirred something with a powerful dark group called the Double Eagle, which has its origins in the KKK. The more Penn investigate, the more he realizes that Viola’s death was nothing but simple, and his father might be nothing more than a pawn in the hands of some very powerful figures from the past.
The last book in the Natchez Burning trilogy finds Penn all but heartroken because he has lost everything he cared about. Now his father is on trial and the woman he loves is gone. Worst, his father doesn’t want help nor he wants to help himself. Unless Penn Cage can find the means to prove his father’s innocence, all will be lost for good.
Greg Iles Biography
Greg Iles was born in 1960, in Stuttgart, Germany. At the time, his father was a physician working at the U.S. Embassy Medical Clinic which he was a head of during the times of the Cold War. His mother was a teacher who constantly instilled in him the love for creativity. After the family moved back in 1963 to the US, Greg grew up in Natchez, Mississippi, which is the setting of several of the author’s novels, including the Penn Cage series. He attended Trinity Episcopal Day School, and then he enrolled at the University of Mississippi, from where he graduated in 1983 with a degree in English literature. Initially, he enrolled in pre-med, but at some point he realized being a doctor is not what he wanted. So he phoned his dad and told him he would not be following in his footsteps.
Greg Iles didn’t start out as a writer right away. After university, he became a vocalist, a guitarist, and also a songwriter for a band he was in called Frankly Scarlet. He got married in 1989, and one year later, in 1990, after a disagreement with the band, he decided that constant tours away from home were not suitable to married life.
Around this time he started dedicating more of his time to writing. He basically decided to spend as many hours per day as it took to write the first book within a year. This turned out to often be 18 yours writing in one single day.
Just a few years later, in 1993, his debut novel, Spandau Phoenix, was published featuring Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess. The book, a historical thriller, was an instant success and a New York Times Bestseller. I remember reading it back in the day as well, and I was hooked.
The author’s second book, also set during WWII, Black Cross, was published just two years later. This book also became a New York Times Bestseller, and John Grisham nominated Greg Iles for this book, which turned into the Mississippi author’s award for fiction for the author.
By now, if some readers still haven’t heard of the author Greg Iles, his book 24 Hours, published in 2000, made sure they all did. The book was turned into a movie titled Trapped, featuring prominent actors Charlize Theron, Courtney Love, Stuart Townsend, Kevin Bacon, Dakota Fanning, and Pruitt Taylor Vince. For the movie, the author also wrote the original script that was titled Trapped as well. As an interesting trivia, Greg Iles wrote 24 Hours in one week when he was at home sick with the flu.
In 2011, Greg Iles had a serious car accident which changed the course of his entire life. Part of his severe injuries led to him losing part of his right leg below the knee. The injuries necessitated him to be put in a medically induced coma for 8 days. During his recovery time, he wrote three novels which eventually turned into the beginning of the Penn Cage series, which is still ongoing. After his divorce, in 2014 soon after his recovery from the accident he got engaged and got married later that same year.
Over the years, Greg Iles has written close to 20 books, and while writing is very important to him, he also went back to his first love, music, which he is practicing in his spare time. In this endeavor, he is part of The Rock Bottom Remainders, an American rock charity supergroup which includes numerous writers and journalist who are also musicians. Among the group’s members are also Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Berry, Ridley Pearson, Barbara Kingsolver, and many others. The band plays about a dozen gigs every year with the aim to raise money for children’s literacy programs.
The Greg Iles books have broken the mold of most commercial novelists’ works. They are in several genres (albeit all somehow related to mystery and thriller), and they all did well. They also all have in common psychological and emotional ties that run strong in each story. Most of them ended up on top numbers of various bestselling lists like the New York Times. So far, his books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have been published into over 20 countries around the world.
Praise for Greg Iles
An ambitious stand-alone thriller that is both an absorbing crime story and an in-depth exploration of grief, betrayal and corruption… Iles’s latest calls to mind the late, great Southern novelist Pat Conroy. Like Conroy, Iles writes with passion, intensity and absolute commitment. (Washington Post on Cemetery Road)
Iles… has made Mississippi his own in the same way that James Lee Burke has claimed Cajun country and Michael Connelly has remapped contemporary Los Angeles… They will be talking about this one for a quite awhile. (Booklist)
There is a graphic beauty to Iles’ writing. He uses measured words to express voluminous stories. . . . He is a masterful storyteller! (Huffington Post on Mississippi Blood)
Prepare to be surprised. Iles has always been an exceptional storyteller, and he has invested these volumes with an energy and sense of personal urgency that rarely, if ever, falter. (Denver Post)
This novel should come with a red wrapper marked DANGER: HIGH EXPLOSIVES. (Stephen King on Sleep No More)
- Greg Iles official website
- The Rock Bottom Remainders group
- Oprah Greg Iles interview
- Huffington Post Greg Iles interview