Mortal Fear

Mortal Fear

4.1 40
by Greg Iles

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By day, Harper Cole works as a commodities trader...and at night he leads quite a different life, serving as a systems operator for an exclusive erotic on-line service that caters to the rich and famous. But a stranger has now penetrated the network's state-of-the-art security, brutally murdering six celebrated female clients. Falsely accused of these horrible


By day, Harper Cole works as a commodities trader...and at night he leads quite a different life, serving as a systems operator for an exclusive erotic on-line service that caters to the rich and famous. But a stranger has now penetrated the network's state-of-the-art security, brutally murdering six celebrated female clients. Falsely accused of these horrible crimes, Harper realizes he must lure an elusive madman into the open-and place everything he holds dear directly in the killer's path!

Editorial Reviews
Mortal Fear is the story of a confidential sex-chat Internet newsgroup whose female members are gradually ceasing their participation. Although this disturbs founder Harper Cole, he doesn't give it too much thought until he learns that one of the group's more famous patrons has been brutally murdered. When Harper brings this to the attention of the police, he's surprised to discover that other long-term clients have also been horribly mutilated by an unknown madman. Now Cole is the primary suspect.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Yet another serial killer stalks the Internet, this one courtesy of the talented Iles (Black Cross; Spandau Phoenix). When futures trader Harper Cole, who moonlights as the systems operator of an erotic online services called EROS, contacts the New Orleans police with information about the murder of celebrated author-and EROS subscriber-Karin Wheat, he immediately becomes the prime suspect in six other murders of EROS subscribers across the country. Also on the FBI's short list is Cole's eccentric friend and EROS colleague Miles Turner, who has dubbed the killer "Brahma." When Cole learns that the man he thought was Brahma was killed a year ago and that his online identity was stolen, a tense cat-and-mouse game commences. Professional hunters, like FBI psychiatric profiler Arthur Lenz, have the online tables turned on them time and again by an insanely brilliant murderer, and it's up to Cole to render justice. His digging leads to an exciting payoff when he goes online and poses as a potential victim, using as bait a secret that endangers the mother of his child, as well as his wife. While Cole's obsession over this guilty secret makes him less than likable at times, a nailbiting climax erases any doubts about his character-and any lingering questioning about the storytelling abilities of Iles, who here uses rich first-person narration and clever plotting to tell a sizzler of a thriller. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selection; simultaneous Penguin Audio Book. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Successful commodities trader Harper Cole, who moonlights as a systems operator for computer sex-line EROS, works via computer from his home in Rain, Mississippi. When several EROS regulars suddenly disappear, Harper suspects foul play. His subsequent report to the police leads to a manhunt for a diabolical genius stalking his prey through the EROS network. When the FBI fails to capture the killer, Harper and friend Miles masquerade online as a potential victim, using the persona of Harper's sister-in-law as bait. Events escalate, and Harper and wife Dr. Drewe Cole become trapped in a personal struggle with the madman as his lethal attacks strike ever closer to home. Iles (Black Cross, LJ 11/15/94) scores high with this psychological thriller, easily accessible even to the computer-semiliterate. Though a bit too long, allowing for predictability at the end, it is still a chilling roller-coaster ride all the same. Recommended-Lori Dunn, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Troy, N.C.
Kirkus Reviews
An exuberant if somewhat hokey computer age serial-killer- thriller combines voyeuristic sex, Internet technobabble, tedious brain research, and southern-fried soap opera with a high degree of stay-up-all-night suspense.

Can you hate a novel that hacks off Anne Rice's head in the first chapter? Shaken by the news of the gory murder of New Orleans gothic horror novelist "Karin Wheat," Harper Cole, a self-made commodities trader and secret systems operator of EROS, an upscale Internet sex-chat service, knows that when Wheat wasn't pounding out bestselling terror tales, she was sharing her deepest erotic fantasies with other pseudonymous EROS members, six of whom have been mysteriously murdered within the last year. Fearing that the killer has gained access to EROS's secret files, Cole, who labors in obscurity from a home office hidden among Mississippi cotton fields, calls the New Orleans police and thus brings calamity on himself, his hardworking ob/gyn wife, his sexpot sister-in-law Erin, fatherly FBI forensic psychiatrist Arthur Lenz, and Cole's best friend, eccentric computer genius Miles Turner, creator of the EROS network. To lure the serial killer into revealing himself, Cole goes online pretending to be Erin, a tactic whose gender- switching eroticism is never realized as Iles (Black Cross, 1995, etc.) dumps a fishmonger's cart of red herrings in Cole's path. The villain is a typically brilliant homicidal übermensch who confounds the best efforts of the FBI but is so obsessed with computers, neurology, and obscure Hindu mythology that he can't help but talk online about how brilliant he is, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Iles counters this tedium with expertly detailed violence, computer lore, and predictable plotting that eventually brings the killer to Cole's doorstep, where he attempts to make Cole's wife his ultimate mate.

An overlong but relentlessly readable, by-the-numbers thriller whose up-to-the-minute technology will delight net surfers and Anne Rice fans.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.15(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Stephen Coonts
Greg Iles mixes action and suspense like a master.

Meet the Author

Greg Iles was born in 1960 in Germany. He founded the band Frankly Scarlet, plays guitar for the Rock Bottom Remainders, and is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including Blood Memory and 24 Hours. He lives in Natchez, Mississippi.

Brief Biography

Natchez, Mississippi
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Stuttgart, Germany
B.A., University of Mississippi, 1983

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Mortal Fear 4.1 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 41 reviews.
theshippingnews More than 1 year ago
Yikes. This is one long thriller. It has its moments, though I found some of the language choices a little odd, too formal, almost, a little stilted. I had to go back and re-read sentences here and there because they were so jarring (just like The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb). Not a book I would recommend.
C4GiGi More than 1 year ago
This is not the typical book club topic. It was the first book by Greg Isles that I had read. (1997)Since then I seek out his books and can hardly wait for the next. if you are not familiar with this author, this is a great introduction. If you are familiar you would not be disappointed. I have purchased this book at least four times and never get it back when I lend it out. This book had me hooked from the very beginning. The only problem I have is putting these books down. Love them all. I would love to have this on my nook.
trobinson84 More than 1 year ago
I have now read all but three of iles' books, and this is not unlike the others. It is wonderful. While turning angel is my favorite, this comes in a close second.
JCarrollSS More than 1 year ago
A suspense filled page turner.fascinating and additive, a thriller of such accomplishment it justifies reading twice. J. Carroll Author of Silver Gold
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My first book by this author and I have since bought two more. Great story. My only complaint is the lack of punctuation which makes it a tough read at times.
Desertstars More than 1 year ago
I purchased two books by this author and was reading his work for the first time. I really enjoyed the setting ,as I am famliar with the area of Mississippi in which sets his stories. I like the the plao of this book and found it refreshingly different than many of the authors that write the same plat over and over but change the characters and the setting. The plot was not so far fetched that it was not believeable and the ending was really good! The characters were exactly the type of characters I like to read about ,mysterious,strong and determined. He will definately be on my watch list and i intend on purchasing all of the books by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just when I thought I had figured out who the "bad guy" was, another plot twist was thrown in. This book kept me up past my bedtime for several nights, and I felt it was one of Greg Iles better stories. I am a relatively new fan of his, and this was the third book I've read by him. His writing style is flawless, and his characters are well developed.
The_Iceman More than 1 year ago
EROS is a high end, very expensive, intensely private and ultra-kinky erotic on-line chat room service. When several normally high frequency users of the service drop off line but continue to allow the almost exorbitant debits to be charged to their bank accounts, Harper Cole, the EROS systems operator, becomes suspicious and worried. As a skilled internet derivatives, commodities and futures trader, he is well aware of the power of money and is justifiably concerned that something has happened to this set of vanishing customers. Further investigation with the help of his colleague, Miles Turner (a very eccentric geek type with extraordinary computer skills) morphs these worries into an ironclad certainty that these customers have been murdered by another EROS customer whom they label "Brahma".

They also discover that Brahma has murdered a male EROS customer and stolen his on-line EROS persona to trap unwitting victims.

When they bring their suspicions to the attention of the authorities, local police and the FBI immediately place him and Miles as #1 and #2 on the suspect list for the string of brutal serial killings concentrating their efforts, of course, in this completely wrong direction. Cole and Turner realize that their own freedom, not to mention the lives of other EROS subscribers, depend on their trapping the killer themselves. Concocting an elaborate on-line false identity, they conduct an elaborate ruse to bring the killer into the open but time after time, the brilliant killer sniffs out his pursuers and remains one step ahead of them. They come to realize that they are now targets and, not only have they placed themselves in dire peril, but they've managed to endanger Cole's child, the mother of his child and his trusting wife.

Greg Iles has created a plot with the potential to sizzle off the page - sex, brutality, blood and guts, computer technology, cat and mouse games with an insanely brilliant and devious killer - but, sadly, "Mortal Fear" is actually an overly long, under-edited series of sadly missed opportunities.

"Mortal Fear" could have delved into the sociological ramifications of on-line sex as a form of infidelity. It didn't. "Mortal Fear" could have dug deeply into the legal issues of "right to privacy". It didn't. "Mortal Fear" could have discussed the psychological impact of incest on its participants and victims. It didn't. "Mortal Fear" could have provided some absolutely fascinating sidebars on the science of transplants, hemophilia and the pineal gland, in particular. It didn't. (I know, I know ... that came out of left field but if you actually bother to read "Mortal Fear" after reading this review, you'll discover how these things fit into Iles' plot!) "Mortal Fear" could have discussed the esoteric art of serial killer profiling in considerably greater detail. It didn't. On top of that, each and every one of his characters were quite flat. There was lots of action, lots of dialogue and lots of movement but none of it really seemed to lift the story off the page into believability.

Frankly, a poor effort overall in comparison to some of his other page turners such as "Turning Angel". Not recommended.

Paul Weiss
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story could have been told within 350 pages, with a lot less noding off on my part. I found most of this story to be really far fetched and hard to swallow. I know, it's fiction, but for me, there has to be some semblence of realty to make a plot come to life! Not one of Isles's better books!!!
birds123_74 More than 1 year ago
I love this author,except this book I did not like it.I did buy all of his books.Hope to see more of them. ps I love long books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
katipu More than 1 year ago
Not finished yet, but so far... so good. I got the audiobook and I am enjoying it lots. Great entertainment -- as usual. i have read/heard every book by Greg Iles and have NEVER been dissapointed. The only negative I find is that since I am technologically impaired... it gets a bit too technical and drawn out for my taste. When is the next book coming out?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was hesitant to read this book even though I love this author's prose. I gave in and was very happy I took the chance and went forward. The story line is great and the plot is tight. I highly recommend this book!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Hve read this story sometime back, it starts off nicely and in certain sections very engaging to the reader. But somewhere to the middle of the book the story plot becomes stale. also the plot of cyber story kind of fresh but no substance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read by Iles. It was an entertaining novel but I do think it was a bit long and strained credibility with a some far-fetched plot twists, particularly towards the end. I will read more of his work. He is certainly a writer to watch as he had some interesting insights into the effects of guilt on the protaganist's marital relationship.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first Greg Iles book I read was 24 because I had heard that he had written it in 24 hours. I was very disappointed because I had seen this story several times before. Years later a friend recommended Blood Memory and I reluctantly picked it up. To my surprise, it was amazing. Then, I came across this book and I can honestly say it was one of my top 4 books of all time. Very rarely can a book keep me up till all hours of the night, but I could not put this down. I cared about the characters and the book was filled with numerous tense moments. I will be reading the rest of his books in the near future.