I am beginning to wonder if Greg Iles is having marital problems because his last few novels have involved serious marital and custody issues. Third Degree focuses on one horrible afternoon in a couple’s life when a husband discovers his wife’s infidelity and snaps, holding her and their children hostage in their home. The husband’s behavior had been erratic lately, which Laurel, the wife, had chalked up to his concern about the audit of his medical practice for billing irregularities. Tipped off to incriminating evidence planted in his house by his business partner, Warren, the husband, instead finds evidence of his wife’s infidelity. Warren demands the name; Laurel won’t give it to him and the madness intensifies as police–including trigger happy members holding a grudge as well as Laurel’s former lover–gather outside the house, preparing for action. Will anyone emerge alive from this situation?
Set again in Mississippi, Iles is great at painting a picture of small-town life. I like that he uses the same area for most of his novels. Unfortunately, I found this novel to be only mediocre. I think my biggest complaint is that we were expected to be sympathetic to Lauren and her lover’s situation. Why should we reward their infidelity? Why do they deserve a happy ending? Warren (despite taking her hostage) was not a horrible husband to her. I felt like Iles was rather one-sided with the story. He paints Warren and Danny’s (Laurel’s lover) as one-dimensional, horrible characters, and maybe they are, but why should I sympathize with infidelity? It seems that Danny’s major saving grace is that he loves his autistic son while his wife does not, and I think it’s despicable to use that as a characteristic.
I was also a little frustrated by the constant going back and forth about who Laurel’s lover is and her denials and the fact that Warren won’t listen to her. Iles put in one too many scenes like that, and I was ready for the action to move on. It seemed that the rescue team took forever to finally move.
In short, it seems like Iles cranked out this book in as little time as possible with scant attention to character development. He’s written far better books.
Recommended (also by Iles):