Mortal Fear

( 37 )

Overview

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 ...

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Mortal Fear

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Overview

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!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
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 ├╝bermensch 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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451180414
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 720
  • Sales rank: 172,384
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Greg Iles
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.

Biography

Greg Iles has led a sort of double life as a novelist. His first books, based on extrapolations from real events in World War II, earned him an initial following, but his very modern crime novels are what currently hold his -- and his readers' -- focus. His tight pacing and chilling, innovative concepts have made him especially attractive to Hollywood, which has optioned and/or expressed interest in several of his books.

Iles's first novel, Spandau Phoenix, was about the secret escape of a Nazi soldier and the chilling plot related in his discovered diaries. It was a mixed success critically, earning praise for its premise but low marks on style. Since then, Iles has clearly developed as a novelist, and branched out in themes too.

With his second novel, Black Cross, Iles displayed more of a voice and more streamlined plotting in his story of a conspiracy to use the Nazi's own weapons against them. Those first two titles did become bestsellers; but by the time Iles shifted gears to write crime thrillers set in his native Mississippi, he found himself getting even more attention -- and better reviews. His next two books, Mortal Fear and The Quiet Game, remain his personal favorites. Iles was born in Stuttgart, Germany, where his father was in charge of the medical clinic at the U.S. Embassy, in 1961. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1983 and played guitar in a rock band for several years before trying his hand at writing novels.

Moving from screenplays to thrillers to speculative historical fiction, Iles continues to stretch as a writer. He also indulges his love for music (he once played guitar in the band Frankly Scarlet) by performing with the Rock Bottom Remainders, an author side project that includes writers Stephen King, Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, and Amy Tan

Good To Know

After graduation from college, Iles worked as an x-ray and lab technician for his father, dug ditches, and worked as a professional guitarist and singer.

Iles has the ability to be gloomily prophetic, but not intentionally. In an online chat in 1997, a fan pointed out that some real-life Internet-related murders had followed his Mortal Fear. Iles responded: "A lot of my books have been that way. My World War II thriller about Sarin gas [Black Cross] was published two months before the Sarin attack in the Japanese subway. There are very weird coincidences out there. And I do have one surefire plot I have not and probably never will write, because of my fear someone will carry it out."

Iles's wife is a high-school sweetheart whom he married when he was 29.

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    1. Hometown:
      Natchez, Mississippi
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 30, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      Stuttgart, Germany
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Mississippi, 1983
    2. Website:

Interviews & Essays

Before the live bn.com chat, Greg Iles agreed to answer some of our questions:

Q:  Who do you think is the most dynamic sports figure in history?

A:  I played sports in school, but I've never been a big sports fan in terms of watching games. I would say the most dynamic sports figure in history is Jim Thorpe, because he excelled in so many areas, and did so against great odds.

Q:  Do you have a "worst date" story? Would you tell us about it?

A:  I really don't have a worst date story. I was one of those people who never went out on dates unless he had a pretty good idea of compatibility from the start. Sort of like a lawyer not asking a question he doesn't know the answer to.

Q:  What books did you read as a child? Are they the same books you would read to your children?

A:  All the standards, Dr. Seuss, etc. My favorite was a book called Artie the Smartie, about a fish who managed to avoid every hook and trap, and kept from being caught. Perfect bible for a control freak. I probably won't read that book to my kids. I don't want them to be as uptight as I am when they grow up.

Q:  Do you like to cook?

A:  I do like to cook, but with a three-year-old and a two-month-old, I don't have much time for it.

Q:  What, to you, is the most important day of the year?

A:  The most important day of the year is when I finish whatever novel I'm working on, because that's the only day of the year when I relax at all. The problem with that is that day only comes once every two years!

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 37 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 16, 2011

    Too long, too tedious, choose something else

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    An overly long series of sadly missed opportunities!

    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". <BR/><BR/>They also discover that Brahma has murdered a male EROS customer and stolen his on-line EROS persona to trap unwitting victims. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>"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. <BR/><BR/>Frankly, a poor effort overall in comparison to some of his other page turners such as "Turning Angel". Not recommended. <BR/><BR/>Paul Weiss

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great read!

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    A must read (or hear...)

    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?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Terrific read

    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!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 4, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another Wonderful Iles' Book!

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2010

    Heart throbbing

    A suspense filled page turner.fascinating and additive, a thriller of such accomplishment it justifies reading twice.

    J. Carroll Author of
    Silver Threads.to Gold

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2010

    Entertaining Read!

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2009

    a page turner

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2008

    Story tat sinks...

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2007

    Entertaining

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2006

    Keeps getting better!

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2006

    Greg Iles hits close to the bullseye!

    I picked up my first Iles book (24 Hours) at a yard sale for a dime, and immediately after finishing it (the same night!) I went onto Barnes and Noble and ordered every book he wrote so far! I just finished reading MORTAL FEAR and loved it! It's a great book, and definitely worth picking it up! You WON'T be able to put it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2006

    One of my favorites

    Greg Iles is absolutely my favorite author, I've read every book he's written, and I loved this book. It grabbed me from the beginning and I couldn't put it down. This book was especially enjoyable with the suspense, drama, and twists and turns. I highly recommend this and every book Greg Iles has written. Another thing I like about his writing is that the theme of the book changes, while many are set in Mississippi, they are no all the same and the characters change.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2005

    A disappointing book

    I have read most of Greg Iles novels but this one was definately my least favorite. It begun interestingly enough but became very repetitive and somewhat boring. The ending is too far-fetched for my liking. The best I have read by Iles is Blood Memory and Quiet Game.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2004

    It was okay

    This is the third book of Greg Iles that I've read and it was my least favorite. Still, I finished it and was glad I did so. It dragged in a few parts but overall it was an okay read. I still believe that Iles is a master at creating characters and making the reader feel like a part of the scene. I was able to get a real good picture in my head of each character and the settings. My complaint with this book is that it gets a little 'too far out there'. I'm not sure that things would or could happen as written. Okay....I know its just a book but I would've preferred something a bit more plausible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2004

    started off Great

    but then toward the middle of the book, I lost interest. This is my 1st Iles book. I havent finished it, cause i'm afraid it's not going to have a great ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2003

    Couldn't put it down

    This was the first book I'd read by Greg Iles and it was wonderful. He is an excellent storyteller and the book maintained its suspensefulness almost to the end. (I did think the book lost momentum in the final chapters.) Despite that, it was well worth the read! There are few writers out there that are as good as Greg Iles

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2003

    Another new author for me to add to my favorites

    I just finished Mortal Fear my first book by Greg Iles and I am so hooked. Just like I fell in love with Dean Koontz writing I am in love with Greg's writing. I could not put this book down. I love authors that really know how to 'tell' a story and he is right up there with the best. All the craziness of the killer, the plot, the people, Harper, Drewe, Miles, Erin, the monster, it was a superb book. When I think about a book for days after I have finished well, that is a sure sign of a great book. I am an avid reader and have been 'branching out' with new writers and Greg is for sure on my 'top 20' list.

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