Natchez Burningby Greg Iles (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Series: Penn Cage #4
on August 4, 2015
Genres: Adult, Alternate History, Contemporary, Crime, Historical, Law & Crime, Murder, Mystery, Psychological Suspense, Social Issues, Terrorism
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles comes the first novel in his Natchez Burning trilogy—which also includes The Bone Tree and the upcoming Mississippi Blood—an epic trilogy that interweaves crimes, lies, and secrets past and present in a mesmerizing thriller featuring Southern lawyer and former prosecutor Penn Cage.
Raised in the southern splendor of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned all he knows of duty from his father, Dr. Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor has been accused of murdering the African American nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the 1960s. Once a crusading prosecutor, Penn is determined to save his father, but Tom, stubbornly invoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses even to speak in his own defense.
Penn’s quest for the truth sends him deep into his father’s past, where a sexually charged secret lies. More chilling, this long-buried sin is only one thread in a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the vicious Double Eagles, an offshoot of the KKK controlled by some of the most powerful men in the state. Aided by a dedicated reporter privy to Natchez’s oldest secrets and by his fiancée, Caitlin Masters, Penn uncovers a trail of corruption and brutality that places his family squarely in the Double Eagles’ crosshairs.
With every step costing blood and faith, Penn is forced to confront the most wrenching dilemma of his life: Does a man of honor choose his father or the truth?
Natchez Burning is quite a hefty tome–to the tune of 816 pages in the paperback–and I found myself wondering what I’d gotten myself into when I cracked open the spine. But I was drawn into the world of Penn Cage, mayor of Natchez, Mississippi, and his crusade to clear the name of his doctor father of the murder of his former nurse, who was dying of cancer. But their story goes back from the present day all the way to the 1960s and into the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, and so much happens in this book–from a much more extreme off-shoot of the KKK to dirty cops to rich men who run the dirtiest deeds in the state, to talks of mercy killings and white on black murders that were never solved fifty years in the past. Racism and prejudice were front and center in the past, and they aren’t so much in the past as people would like to think they are in present day America, especially in the south.
This book follows former prosecutor and current mayor of Natchez Penn Cage as he investigates every angle of why his father won’t defend himself against the murder allegations of his current patient and former nurse. Since she died under suspicious circumstances and the district attorney has a grudge with Penn Cage, Dr. Cage is brought up on murder charges and Penn winds up defending his father. Dr. Cage is a pillar of the community–to the blacks and whites alike–so almost no one can believe that he would have murdered the beloved nurse that everyone remembers from the 1960s. But Penn has an uphill battle to fight since his father won’t break doctor-patient confidentiality or help himself out in any way by revealing the truth about what went on the night that Violet died.
I really loved that the story was told from a different character’s point of view with each chapter so you got a really well-rounded look at what was going on in this story. Natchez Burning is such a long, complex book that wouldn’t have worked if it was told only from Penn’s point of view because it isn’t just his story–it’s the hate crime murder victims’ tales, and the Double Eagles’ tome of evil deeds as well as reporter Henry Sexton’s quest to uncover who killed his African-American friends all those years ago. Greg Iles doesn’t shy away from the gritty, dirty details of life, or from the trauma and messiness of death. Working in the real-life events of the Civil Rights Era made the book more realistic, especially when the characters fit so seamlessly into that time and place.
I give Natchez Burning a four out of five. This book took quite a time investment to get through, but it was worth it. The characters weren’t one-dimensional, and whether they were good or bad, they leapt off the page. The setting of Natchez, Mississippi–in the present day and in the 1960s–came to life quite vividly with Greg Iles’ concise descriptions of all the senses. The book could have been a bit more concise and a bit less repetitive, cutting down on some pages to make it tighter and I would have enjoyed it more. I’m thankful that I can start the second book, The Bone Tree, right away since you didn’t get an extremely satisfying conclusion to this first book. This series is a trilogy with the last book due out in early 2017.
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About Greg Iles
Greg Iles spent most of his youth in Natchez, Mississippi. His first novel, Spandau Phoenix, was the first of thirteen New York Times bestsellers, and his new trilogy continues the story of Penn Cage, protagonist of The Quiet Game, Turning Angel, and #1 New York Times bestseller The Devil’s Punchbowl. Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries. He lives in Natchez with his wife and has two children.
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Greg Ile’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for NATCHEZ BURNING:
Monday, August 22nd: Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps
Tuesday, August 23rd: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Wednesday, August 24th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, August 25th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, August 26th: she treads softly
Tuesday, August 30th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, August 31st: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, September 1st: Comfy Reading
Friday, September 2nd: Art @ Home
Monday, September 5th: Ace and Hoser Blook
Tuesday, September 6th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, September 7th: Bibliophiliac
Friday, September 9th: Dreams, Etc.
Monday, September 12th: Ms.Bookish.com
Tuesday, September 13th: Literary Quicksand
Wednesday, September 14th: Lit and Life
Thursday, September 15th: I Brought a Book
Monday, September 19th: Bewitched Bookworms
Thursday, September 22nd: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile