Third Degree by Greg Iles


Pros: held my interest

Cons: but has plenty of flaws

It’s funny.  There are some books that capture your attention from the first page, holding you captive ’til the very end.  And, yet, despite the fact that you stayed up late flipping those pages, you have to admit, it just wasn’t a great book.

Such is the case with Third Degree by Greg Iles.  This book should be made into a 2-hour Lifetime movie.  It’s the perfect script for it.  But as a book – despite being intriguing, it just had so many flaws!

The entire book takes place in one day.  A bad day for Laurel.  She just ended her extra-marital affair, and now she finds out she’s pregnant, no way to know who the father is.   Worst of all, she comes home to discover that her husband has just found some evidence of her infidelity.  He knows she’s been unfaithful, but not with whom.  And he’s on a mission to find out.  Slowly descending into utter madness, her husband is on the warpath.  Taking Laurel hostage at gunpoint, seemingly uncaring what becomes of her or of their two children, Warren wants a name – and he wants it now.  Laurel’s worst nightmare is unfolding as a husband she barely recognizes tries to find out just who her lover is.  Can Laurel keep her lover’s identity a secret long enough to ensure his safety?

There you have it – your basic “man takes family hostage” story.  Fast-paced, with plenty of suspense and action, my interest was held.  I certainly wanted to know how it would all work out.

But I also did a lot of eye-rolling – mostly at the sheer stupidity of the characters.  Let’s start with Laurel.  She’s supposed to be a smart lady.  But she wasn’t very smart when it came to keeping her affair a secret.  Sure, she did some things correctly.  For instance, she knew not to use her own cell phone for those illicit text messages.  However, didn’t any part of her think it might be dangerous to keep a hand-written note in the house.  Another piece of damaging evidence gets tossed into the yard where anyone could come across it.  I could think of a hundred different ways to get rid of the evidence that don’t involve tossing it into a yard where kids and dogs romp.

Now Warren – he was a bit smarter than his wife.  He actually had some pretty clever ways of finding what he wanted to know.  However, a big part of his plan was spoiled by a little kid.  Kind of reminded me of a silly scene from Home Alone.

Then there are the authorities.  Boy were they incompetent.  Let’s just say Iles went out of his way to paint them as buffoons – to a ridiculous point.  I get that if the authorities do their jobs too well, then we don’t have a story.  After all, there has to be some points given to the perpetrator or there’s nothing to write about.  But Iles went to an extreme in this regard.  I guess he knows it, too, because in the “acknowledgment” at the end of the book he goes out of his way to explain that the police in the book were NOT based on any real-life policemen… Thank goodness!

Of course, the real problem with Third Degree is that there are no good guys to root for.  Sure, we don’t want Laurel killed – she doesn’t deserve to die for what she did.  But she’s hardy a sympathetic character.  After all, her infidelity is what got her into this mess in the first place.  Then there’s her lover.  We’re supposed to think of him as a hero.  But let’s not forget – he’s cheating on his wife, too.  Warren is a wronged husband, so he would be a sympathetic character, but he’s too far over-the-top.  Especially since he’s putting not only his wife – but also his kids – in danger.  So who, exactly, are we supposed to root for here?

Held my interest, but definitely has its faults.

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