Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
ISBN: 9780062311078 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062311108 (ebook)
ASIN: B00FJ3AC10 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow
An American writer at the height of his creative powers, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist Greg Iles returns with his most eagerly anticipated book yet, and his first in five years—Natchez Burning, the first installment in an epic trilogy that weaves crimes, lies, and secrets past and present into a mesmerizing thriller featuring southern mayor and former prosecutor Penn Cage.
Raised in the historic southern splendor of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned all he knows of honor and duty from his father, Dr. Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor and pillar of the community has been accused of murdering Viola Turner, 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 to even 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 waiting to tear their family apart. More chilling, this long-buried sin is only a single thread in a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the vicious Double Eagles, an offshoot of the KKK controlled by some of the wealthiest and 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?
Drenched in southern atmosphere, Natchez Burning marks the brilliant return of a genuine American master of suspense. Tense, disturbing, and filled with electrifying plot twists, this novel commences the most explosive and ambitious story Greg Iles has ever written.
Natchez Burning presents a variety of societal issues without any sugarcoating, such as rampant racism, racially motivated torture and killings, rape, intimidation, adultery, illegal drugs, family, injustice, and, the worst thing of all, secrets. How far do you go to protect your past? How far do you go to protect the past of others? How far are you willing to go to protect a way of life?
I've enjoyed reading all of the previous novels by Greg Iles that included the character Penn Cage, and Natchez Burning is definitely included in that list. However, Natchez Burning is now my favorite Greg Iles novel and the reasons why are multitudinous. Penn Cage is a flawed yet honorable man. This book presents Penn with the worst possible dilemma, supporting the truth or his family. Natchez Burning presents a painful part of American history that is not too distant and not easily addressed, if at all, by government officials or even appeased by the truth. Racism is still a part of American culture regardless as what some in the media may say. Natchez Burning points a bright spotlight on this ongoing issue and the past behaviors of a small group of racists that killed ruthlessly with impunity.
I found Natchez Burning to be a difficult read simply because it spotlights hate crimes and the perpetrators in such a realistic manner. Reading about torture, killings, and rape, even if fictionalized, had me putting aside the book for a few hours before resuming. Natchez Burning portrays the South in a dark, gritty and realistic way that surpasses what has been revealed in other books dealing with racism and injustice. Yet even with the dark and heart-wrenching themes, Mr. Iles provides the reader with a sense of hope that justice will prevail and "truth will out."
I could go on and on about the different characters, those I liked and those I despised. I could go on and on about the tragedies that are revealed, many in the past and some contemporary. I could rave about the amazing writing of Mr. Iles or the fact that this book is just as much literary masterpiece as it is mystery-suspense masterpiece. However the only thing I really need to tell you is to read this book! If you never take any other bookish recommendation from me, take this one — go out and buy a copy of Natchez Burning and read this book! For myself, I'll be re-reading Natchez Burning as I anxiously await the next book in this trilogy, The Bone Tree.
Just so you don't think I'm the only one raving about this book, here's what others are saying about Natchez Burning:
Kirkus Reviews (starred review): "A searing tale of racial hatreds and redemption in the modern South, courtesy of Southern storyteller extraordinaire Iles. . . . A memorable, harrowing tale."
Library Journal (starred review): "An absorbing and electrifying tale that thriller fans will be sure to devour."
Publishers Weekly (starred review): "Much more than a thriller, Iles's deftly plotted fourth Penn Cage novel doesn't flag for a moment . . . This superlative novel's main strength comes from the lead’s struggle to balance family and honor."
Scott Turow: "Natchez Burning is just flat-out terrific . . . its themes about race, violence, tradition, and the eternal smoldering anger of the South [bring] to mind Thomas Wolfe and William Faulkner . . . Greg Iles is back and truly better than ever."
Stephen King: "Natchez Burning is extraordinarily entertaining and fiendishly suspenseful. I defy you to start it and find a way to put it down . . . This is an amazing work of popular fiction."
Jodi Picoult: "I don't know how Iles did it, but every single page of Natchez Burning is a cliffhanger that will keep you devouring just one more chapter before you put it down . . . this ambitious, unique novel is the perfect marriage of a history lesson and a thriller."
Booklist (starred review): "It's been half a decade since Iles' last Penn Cage novel, but, oh boy, was it worth the wait! . . . This beautifully written novel represents some of the author's finest work, with sharper characterizations and a story of especially deep emotional resonance, and we eagerly await volume two."
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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