Third Degree: A Novel
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From New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles comes his latest tour de force thriller -- an unforgettable plunge into a world of sex, violence, marital betrayal, medical malpractice, and Southern intrigue...all of which takes place in the span of one furious, terrifying day. In Third Degree, Greg Iles takes us to the idyllic town of Athens Point, Mississippi, to probe beneath the surface of the modern American marriage -- where the appearance of perfection conceals a soul-searing conflict of unnerving intensity and violent possibility. Packed with the storytelling brilliance and twisting suspense that mesmerized readers of True Evil, Turning Angel, and Blood Memory, Iles's newest novel delivers a powerful, revelatory reading experience. Laurel Shields, thirty-five and mother of two, awakens to find that her husband, Warren, a prominent local physician, is not in bed with her. Creeping out to the kitchen of their palatial home, she sees him through the doorway of his study, wildly pulling books from the shelves. Two weeks earlier, Warren and his partner were informed by the IRS that their medical practice was being audited; since then the stress on Dr. Shields has steadily ratcheted up.But Laurel has problems of her own. Quickly returning to the bedroom, she locks herself in the master bath, opens a home pregnancy testing kit, and fearfully tests herself. PREGNANT, announces the digital readout. Laurel closes her eyes as though absorbing news of a death, then quickly hides the evidence. She is not sure who the father is. Summoning all her strength, she walks into the kitchen to carry out the acting performance of her life. Later that morning, Laurel returns home and is surprised to find her husband's car still parked in the driveway. The house has a strange stillness to it. In the den, she finds Warren sitting on the sofa in the same clothes he wore the previous day. His face is pale and unshaven, his eyes hollow with fear. Then, in come the children, innocent of it all....So begins the most terrifying day in the history of a marriage, one that in less than five hours will make the Shields house the vortex of a nerve-wracking siege. While a nervous ring of armed men awaits its chance to storm the suburban home, inside the house the clock ticks down on exposure of Laurel's terrible secret. But she is not alone in her lies. Before the siege is through, this terrifying drama will pull in desperate characters from the town and drive Dr. Shields, his wife, and her lover to the very brink of sanity and survival. Rich with Southern atmosphere, and perceptively laced with the tacit deceptions and psychological cracks found in nearly all marriages, Third Degree delivers another knockout, page-turning read from Greg Iles, "the poster boy of southern gothic thrillers" (Kirkus Reviews), and proves again that Iles is today's unparalleled master of the suspense novel.

Customer Reviews:

  • Good read...
    I love the writing style of Greg Iles. This book did not disappoint. I had a hard time getting into it at first but once I did I lost a lot of sleep trying to get through it. The ending was a little disappointing but other than that it was a nice ride to get there....more info
  • Not Up To His Usual Standard
    I am a gan of this writer and have read many of his previous works and, with rather high expectations, I began this work. It missed the mark on many levels. One of the writers greatest strengths has been in the area of character development as well as in his ability to utilize double as well as triple twists in the telling of his story. The cahracters are somewhat stiff and lack the depth that has become trademark of this writer. The sory is rather predictable and is far from reality. An earlier work by the writer was 24 Hours. It seems as if he has taken this earlier work, which was far superior, and merely updated the story with some minor variations. Iles is known for his ability to write well in various genres. This book misses his previous works badly. It is still a rapid read, if one is able to overlook a work that contains many extraneous sub-plots as well as matters that are unresolved when the novel ends....more info
  • So, So Good
    I've been surprised over the negative comments about THIRD DEGREE, mostly because I enjoyed it so much. As far as thrillers go, it's not amazingly original, but the writing is great and it moves along at a really good clip.

    This isn't about crazy terrorists, gun-toting assassins, or super spies. It's simply about a marriage that has fallen apart, a husband who has literally gone over the deep end, and a wife trying her best to both apologize for her betrayal and keep safe everyone she loves the most.

    I read THIRD DEGREE in a day, because I didn't want to put it down once I started. For me, a really enjoyable read!...more info
  • What a Day! What a Read!
    I bought this book the old fashioned a I was unaware of the variety of reviews it has engendered here on Amazon until I finished it. Quite frankly, I fail to understand what all the fuss is about with those who didn't like the book. It is a flat out page turning read.

    A number of people have more than adequately gone over the plot and telling to much would spoil it for others. All I will say that the one day that is packaged between the covers of this book is really something and if you pass it by it will be your loss.

    Mr. Iles continues at the top of his profession, in my judgement.

    ...more info
  • Review of Audio Book
    I'm almost finished with the audio version of Third Degree and I absolutley LOVE IT. I was really suprised to see so many negative and neutral reviews. I listen to audio books in the car on my looonnnnggg commute to work each day and this book makes me wish my commute were even longer.
    I am completely riveted by the story that has developed. I love the characters and can't wait to find out how it all turns out!!!

    The narrator does a great job. I sometimes have a problem with audio books when narrators try to do accents and voices and end up sounding corny. If I can't get past the narration, then I can't get immersed in the novel. This narrator (sorry, can't remember his name) does a fantastic job distingushing characters (including female characters) through voice inflections and some accenting. He even does the kids voices well. I consider it to be good narration if I can forget that I'm listening to someone reading and get just as involved as if I were reading myself. Kudos on a job well done here.

    I did notice that most of the 1 star reviews said that this book pales in comparison to the authors other novels. If this is one of his poorer novels, I can't wait to get the others!...more info
  • Unforgiving ... In more ways than one.
    Laurel Shields's day turns into a nightmare from the moment she got out of bed. First, an E.P.T. Pregnancy test turns out positive, her husband had never came to bed and seems frantic while trashing the great room. Obviously, he's looking for something. What, she doesn't know. The problem is: she doesn't know who the father is. Her husband Warren's, or Danny McDavitt, the man with whom she'd had a year-long affair with that recently ended.

    Even though she feels a migraine coming on, she still goes to the school where she teaches special needs children. Her migraine becomes full-blown when it's Danny who shows up for the parent-teacher meeting, not his wife.

    She returns home for medication for her migraine only to have her husband confront her. Seems he found a letter, hidden in one of her favourite classic books, from an unknown man. She denies it, but he doesn't believe her. Now a gun comes into the picture, and Warren is now holding her hostage, determined to find out who she was having an affair with.

    Meanwhile, Warren has a secret he's been keeping from Laurel. He's sick, and there's nothing that can be done about it. And he's known about his condition for a little over a year. And to boot, the IRS is coming to audit him and his partner, Kyle Auster. Seems Auster has been defrauding the government, and while Warren kept his business out of it, he'd started partaking, when he found out about his condition.

    Things escalate from there.

    This is the first Greg Iles novel I've read. Some reviews are saying it's by far not his best work. What do I say to that? Thank God! Maybe I'll give him another go.

    It felt like a bad scene from a made-for-TV-movie, where everything gets out of hand in a big hurry.

    Yes, Laurel finds out she's pregnant. She's positive that Danny is the father. Meanwhile, while Warren holds her hostage, all he wants to know is for her to admit to her affair and who the man is. But she denies it - denies it right up until the end - even when the proof is flashed between the three of them.

    The whole scenario, within a what, 8-hour span, was blown way out of proportion. You get to understand why, because of steroid use and unexplained bouts of anger and violence are a side effect. But until you find that out, it just seems to drag.

    It gets to be repetitive, and in some places, information, details and explanations are drawn out and are unnecessary. Bad enough that I started skimming pages to get passed explanations that had absolutely nothing to do with the situation. For the first time I read anything by this author, that, from me, is considered a bad sign.

    And the characters... good lord, where do I start? I was upset with Laurel right from the beginning. No matter how bad a marriage is, there is no excuse to stray. If you aren't in love anymore, it's called DIVORCE! Sit down and talk to your spouse. Lack of communication upsets me greatly - because there is no excuse for it (I do hope that I don't offend anyone ~ that's my opinion, with a story of fiction or not, cheating on your spouse, to me, is unexcusable)! Warren: I can understand his excuses for not telling anyone about his cancer. I'm sure I'd feel the same way. But again, if he doesn't want anyone to know, that's fine, but as his wife and mother of his children, she had a right to know what was going on. And then he drags the children into the middle of their fight - lucky I can't jump into a book; [...]

    Vera and Auster are completely selfish with utter lack of any morals whatsoever. [...] I hate finding it in a book, fiction or otherwise. Some of the cops shouldn't even be cops, let alone part of the county's SWAT team. Danny seemed to be the only one worth his salt. He tried to talk Warren down, tried to get him to understand that, no matter what Laurel did, whether she cheated or not, it's still no excuse for the way he's acting. Tried to get him to stop. Even though he was lying to Warren himself, that was the smallest of indiscretions that didn't bother me. He was trying to stop anyone else from getting killed, period.

    The biggest problem, for me, with this book was the repetitiveness and the unnecessary details. It made the book drag. It wasn't until the second half of the book where the story really started to get interesting....more info
  • Another Iles Favorite
    If Greg Iles wrote the telephone book I would read it cover to cover. He is just that good. This story was suspenseful, tense, somewhat predictable and entertaining as hell. As much as I liked it I had a had time trying to figure out what value the 2 office girls added to the story. The fine line between love and hate makes this kind of scenario all the more captivating. I couldn't put it down. ...more info
  • Unlikeable characters, but great suspense
    I've seen a wide range of reviews for this book, and I think I understand why. I had no respect for any of the main characters. Laurel and Danny are cheating on their respective spouses, and Warren is not only holding his family hostage, he's been cheating the government through his business. There were frustrations, like why didn't Laurel fight harder? Why did they insist on keeping the affair a secret, even after discovery? That's probably the point I found most ridiculous... that as Warren found out secret after secret, Laurel still admitted nothing -- much to her detriment, and the detriment of her children.

    But despite all this, I found myself actually leaning forward in my seat as I listened, completely caught up in the suspense. Turns out, I don't have to like the characters to like the story! I was engaged and anxious throughout the whole thing, because you know there will be no happy ending for everyone... and perhaps for no one. So, if you don't care about the morals of your protagonists, I recommend this as a good read. Otherwise... you should probably skip it.
    ...more info
  • want a book you won't want to put down til the end?
    As always, Greg Iles delivers. His books are great. I always want to just sit and read from the start to the finish. ...more info
  • Once again, a quick paced Iles novel
    Wow, once again he had me hooked right from the get-go. A faced paced story of what could happen in the cloak of a day. What could happen when a normal doctor becomes a Dr. Jekell. I love the background of the little Mississippi town, and the river that's always there. Iles is on top of his game. I gave it 4 stars, because a few of his others reach even deeper into the psyche of the human mind....more info
  • My first time with Greg Isles
    Well, first I will admit I haven't read Greg Isles' other books, but I was not disappointed and have already recommended it. The other reviewers seem a harsh in comparing him to his other books. I enjoyed this one. There was a major twist that I did not see coming and it does tie in the loose ends. I also thought the complications of the relationships with the other spouses were fairly realistic. I liked how the character's relationships intertwined and I definitely wanted to find out where the story was going and how it would end. If this is Greg Isles at his "not so great" according to some of the reviewers here, I would like to read more by him....more info
  • Over-Processed
    After enjoying Greg Iles last novel, "True Evil" set in Natchez, Mississippi with its integration of characters and venues and categorizing it as almost as good as such a novel could get, "Third Degree" a hostage situation taking place in a familiar "24 Hour" time window seems a bit dj vu and intentionally crafted for either the big screen or a TV movie genre.

    Its not that this book is not interesting, it works very well, using the same techniques as "True Evil"--techniques that Iles has honed to perfection but alas has sharpened to the point of being too much his formulaic trademark. He meets his objective--keeping the reader turning pages while the chapters alternate in terms of the third person narrative perspective and the action reaches the expected crescendo before crashing down towards a denouement of such mellow proportions it seems almost Disneyesque.

    In "Third Degree" the ingredients blend together all too well with the same consistency of a combined bowl of eggs, oil, water and the contents of a box of Betty Crocker's Supreme Brownies. Sure, after the requisite 27 minutes, we bake the ultimate in processed food desserts--delivering the familiar with few surprises. Likewise, Iles produces the same carton-ed miracle--from cover to cover we get pretty much what we have come to demand--the definitive in processed writing.

    Combining the quintessential female protagonist, the lovely Laurel Shields, special ed teacher extraordinaire, trapped in a loveless marriage, pregnant with her jilted lover's child with a deranged husband intent on discovering the name of his rival and willing to subject his family to a police impacted hostage situation, Iles concocts a domestic thriller that includes some surprises but maintains the consistent brownie blandness of high caloric content but, little epicurean inventiveness.

    To his credit, Iles tunes his thrillers to a frequency inherently Deep South, spotlighting with great deftness the character traits yea and nay of the denizens of southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi. His amalgam of wonderfully detailed Southern types runs the gamut from shyster lawyers, womanizing professionals and gung-ho religious fanatics, to nosy garden party hatted neighbors, opinionated bullies and camo-clad ex-militaries who would rather die than pass up a day in a deer stand. Nonetheless, despite his realistic finger on the pulse of today's Dixie, "Third Degree" still feels like a novel I have already read and don't need to read again.

    Bottom line? Techniques Greg Iles utilizes with great success in "24 Hours," still work in "Third Degree." However, the familiarity of content renders this otherwise entertaining novel a shoulder-shrugging apathy that necessitates a change of an over-worked formula. Recommended only for die-hard Iles addicts.
    Diana Faillace Von Behren

    ...more info
  • Really, really bad
    In my opinion, Greg Iles, either writes fabulous, edge of your seat thriller books, or incredibly lame and pathetic ones, and the Third Degree is of the latter variety. There was nothing I liked about this book. Who can feel sorry for a women who has been (spoiler ahead!) cheating on her husband who has cancer and is being distant. All while she's texting this other guy, who then after a big huge drawn out mess involving everyone including her kids, ends up being her "partner" and the kids' "new dad". Yeah....right. That's gonna happen....more info
  • Are you ready?
    How fast can you turn a page? Seriously. This book is going to make a speed reader out of you! Why? How? You will find yourself turning the pages fast as lightning to keep up with the story. Oh, this is good!...more info
  • Irritated
    I like the Authors work in this book but I couldn't get through the book because I was very irritated with the Wife character...She was having an affair and trying to cover it up and protect her lover and it just shows that the whole drama and tragedy of the story could have been avoided had she just been honest with her husband and told him that she no longer wanted to stay in the marraige...I feel the Author tried to justify her commiting much as I could get through the chapters...I was rooting for the husband...because I saw him really being the victim....more info
  • Fastest book I ever read
    I read some of these reviews and was tempted to not get it, but the description of the book intrigued me. I read this book faster than any book I've ever read. I guess you can call that a page turner. I found it very entertaining...more info
  • Audio Review
    I'm still not finished listening to this book on CD but I have to agree with most of the negative reviews that readers have given this book. I am literally talking back to the characters everytime they do something dumb. I hate when authors don't give their readers enough credit.

    SPOILER - When Grant slips back into the house through the dormer window - bizarre that the alarm wouldn't go off but it didn't SO why in the world didn't the sheriff's men go into the house the same way (who knows - maybe they do in the next CD - it's moving so slowly at this point, it's a struggle to finish listening). Instead they abort the mission.

    Laurel Shields doesn't have enough characterization to make her likeable or interesting; Warren Shields is horrible with no redeeming qualities - he's a mess, even without his medical condition, he's a cold, unloving man. Danny MacDavitt is too good to be true so he's boring as well. The only one I actually like in the whole book is Starlett!...more info
  • Disappointing
    Greg Iles is one of my favorite writers but this book was extremely disappointing. Not up to his usual high standard - tedious, tiresome, and a plain waste of money!...more info
  • nuts for greg illes
    the book has great suspense, love plot: and action. i just can't get enough of his books....more info
  • Amazed how the characters drew me in given all their flaws..
    On my way back from a week-long conference, I did something I really didn't need to do... go into an airport bookstore to get something to read. I mean, I was only packing about seven books to start with, and still had about four I hadn't started. But I wanted some mind candy, something with action and suspense that would last just about the length of a cross-country flight. I picked up Third Degree with Greg Iles in paperback as the premise sounded interesting. And it worked perfectly... kept me turning pages, and I finished just about the same time as the plane landed.

    Laurel Shields is living a life that appears to be one that anyone would love to have. Two great kids, a husband (Warren) who has a great job as a physician, and her teaching job at a local school, working with special needs kids. But that life holds a lot of secrets... Warren has become more controlling as the marriage has progressed, and Laurel is far from happy living in the small town where Warren grew up. All this dissatisfaction led to her having an affair with the father of one of the kids she teaches. Although she's deeply in love with Danny McDavitt (and he with her), he can't leave his wife as she'll take his son away from him. When Laurel wakes up on this particular day, she finds out something distressing... she's pregnant, and there's a very good chance it's Danny's. Warren seems to be having a melt-down in the study over something, and Lauren wonders if it's related to the tax issues she's having at his clinic with his business partner. The complete stress of the affair and the pregnancy sends her home early with the start of a migraine, only to find Warren still there... with a gun... and a letter from her lover that he found. Now he wants to know who she's been sleeping with, how long it's been going on, and he'll go to any length to find out. The next twelve hours is a fine dance between her repeated denials, his mental instability, McDavitt trying to rescue both her and her kids, and the police wanting to storm the house with guns blazing.

    Normally in a novel like this, you have a set of good guys and bad guys. But here, everyone involved in the core story is flawed. Warren's psychotic, Lauren's been sleeping around on her husband, and Danny is the "sleepee". The only innocent ones are the kids who are caught in the crossfire. Even the people who work in the clinic with Warren are messed-up individuals trying to stay out of jail for their part in some illegal activities. But strangely, it's hard not to build up a great deal of empathy for Danny and Laurel and what they were trying to escape in their day-to-day lives. As the tension ratchets up during the standoff, McDavitt goes above and beyond to try and end the confrontation with everyone still alive at the end, including Warren. And there are a number of plot twists towards the end that change your whole viewpoint of exactly what has been going on.

    Looking at some of the other reviews on Amazon, I see there's a huge spread in terms of whether people liked the book or not. It seems to be predicated on whether or not you've read Iles before and expect certain types of stories from him. Since it's been awhile since I've read any of his work, I wasn't preconditioned for anything in particular. And as such, I thought it was a great read......more info
  • Not worth your time...
    and money...

    Greg Iles manage to create its main characters that is very hard for you to root for. The female protagonist basically was a slut who cheated on her husband for months, and making every effort to hide it and lie about it. While the guy who she cheated for was a blue collar grease monkey who basically coached the slut how to avoid being caught, while screwing her silly. On the other spectrum, the husband was a pathetic character who doesn't know the first thing about getting even.
    The author went at length...I mean really AT glorify that grease monkey (a veteran who fought in Afghanitan) as a hero. By the middle of the story, the readers would have learn more about the army, marine and the Afghanistan than the Secreatary of States. The author's effort in trying to portray the colonel as a very responsible guy who think first about others before himself is ludicrous. And to depict the cheating wife as a good wife that put her family above herself is beyond asinine.
    Skip this book if you can help it!...more info
  • save your money
    I usually thoroughly enjoy this author. This book, however, is juvenile and a complete departure from his usual clever thrillers. You'll be checking the cover to see if the author is indeed Greg Iles. It should have been condensed to 5 pages and submitted to Cosmopolitan instead....more info
    Greg Iles does it again - another awesome read. Didn't want to put it down and didn't want it to end. ...more info
  • Entertaining, but not Iles' Best
    Greg Iles has written some terrific thrillers over the past decade, including BLACK CROSS, THE QUIET GAME, 24 HOURS, DEAD SLEEP, BLOOD MEMORY, and MORTAL FEAR. With THIRD DEGREE, Iles has written a competent thriller, but not a great one.

    THIRD DEGREE is pretty much a hostage drama, involving a Mississippi doctor who takes his family captive. Most of the doctor's associates are quite unsavory -- his wife is cheating on him, his business partner is trying to frame him, his employees are also crooks, and so forth.

    This novel has a slow and unpleasant beginning, and I almost thought about giving up halfway through. However, the pace picks up dramatically once the doctor takes his family hostage, and the police show up. The action that follows isn't the least bit believable, but it's undeniably exciting. Iles knows how to write a suspenseful story, and he doesn't let down the reader here.

    Unlike other Iles books, the character development in THIRD DEGREE is relatively weak and borders on caricature. Iles seems to have a dim view of the people who live in small Southern towns -- most of them are portrayed as sex-crazed, racist, selfish, and/or small-minded. In the end, I found it difficult to emphasize with any of them, which hurt my enjoyment of the story.

    In short, this book is okay, but it's not Iles' best by a long shot. If you've never read one of his books, my advice is to try either BLACK CROSS or THE QUIET GAME. Those books, unlike this one, will make you appreicate Iles' great talents as a writer.

    ...more info
  • I liked it, not sure why other reviews are lower than normal....
    Iles continues to write great books. They are fast paced, fun to read and I can't wait for the next one. Where this one ranks, I am not sure, I have read them all and they are all good....more info
  • God Awful
    This book is about adultery that rewards the guilty parties. Ugh, I never read a book that made me so angry at the end. And I read trashy novels all the time. It dragged on forever, it was like watching a 24 epsiode that never ended. Please pass this book by. Don't waste your time....more info
  • Unbelievable
    I am a big fan of Greg's books.I own and have read every book he has written.This book however was not very good.The plot was fine,but you really need to suspend reality to believe the various twists and turns.Just not realistic.Because of this the book tends to drag in places.I normally read his books in one or two nights,this one took 5.Hope is next is better...more info
  • Could of been much shorter
    This book is about 200 pages to long. Not only was the book to long, the story was not that compelling. Didn't really care about any of the characters....more info
  • Not up to Greg Iles' standards
    My title should just about say it all. Fans of his other works will note that this is a relatively weak offering. For another author this would be a fairly good work, and I did enjoy it, but it is among Iles' worst offerings so far.

    I highly recommend his other works, esp. Mortal Fear, Black Cross, Spandau Phoenix, the Quiet Game, Turning Angel, True Evil, Blood Memory, Sleep No More, pretty much anything by him....more info
  • Surprising
    I have read all of Greg Iles books, and while this was definitely a decent book, it was not his best. However, it is worth the read. My biggest complaint was that it lacked the usual "page-turner" quality of Iles other books. Most of his books are hard to put down, but this one just kind of plodded along for me. A little disappointed, but still a fan....more info