Tag Archives: Greg Iles

Reading: The Bone Tree, by Greg Iles

the-bone-tree-cover
The Bone Tree, by Greg Iles
What is it about?
Former prosecutor Penn Cage and his fiancée, reporter and publisher Caitlin Masters, have barely escaped with their lives after being attacked by wealthy businessman Brody Royal and his Double Eagles, a KKK sect with ties to some of Mississippi’s most powerful men. But the real danger has only begun as FBI Special Agent John Kaiser warns Penn that Brody wasn’t the true leader of the Double Eagles. The puppeteer who actually controls the terrorist group is a man far more fearsome: the chief of the state police’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, Forrest Knox.

The only way Penn can save his father, Dr. Tom Cage—who is fleeing a murder charge as well as corrupt cops bent on killing him—is either to make a devil’s bargain with Knox or destroy him. While Penn desperately pursues both options, Caitlin uncovers the real story behind a series of unsolved civil rights murders that may hold the key to the Double Eagles’ downfall. The trail leads her deep into the past, into the black backwaters of the Mississippi River, to a secret killing ground used by slave owners and the Klan for over two hundred years . . . a place of terrifying evil known only as “the bone tree.”

My thoughts so far:
There’s nothing like getting behind when reading an epic series like the Natchez Burning trilogy–the books are long and I’ve been feeling a bit behind ever since I started (what am I saying? I have been a bit behind ever since I started!). So here I am, again only part way through the current read, only this time around it’s book two in the trilogy, The Bone Tree. Here are my thoughts so far:
  • There’s a certain privilege in being able to read books in a series back to back: there’s no wait time between the tomes and you slip easily from one book to the other. I loved that The Bone Tree, after a prologue which provided a catching up, started right where things ended in Natchez Burning. Going straight from one book to the other felt smooth, nothing disjointed there. The story continued, period.
  • As mentioned, there’s a nice prologue that does a good job of getting you caught up if you haven’t read the first book (and probably acts as a good reminder if you’d read the first book a while back), but seriously, if you haven’t read Natchez Burning yet, you really should start from there. And as a bonus, you’d have that luxury of slipping smoothly from book one straight into book two.
  • As with the first book, at times the tension and suspense in The Bone Tree gets almost too much for me. And, as with the first book, I find myself having to skip ahead to the end of a chapter so I can calm down a little and go back to reading the chapter the way it should be read.
  • There’s an added plot line in this book about the JFK assassination that I’m still not too sure about. On the one hand, I’m finding this plot line quite interesting. On the other hand, I’m still uncertain whether it’s a good fit with the main plot line surrounding the unsolved civil rights movement murders.
  • The writing in this second book is like the writing in the first book: the language is evocative and succeeds in pulling you into the hot languidness of the Deep South.
  • Like the first book, the violence is brutal, and all the more chilling because of its factual foundations. There is a seamless melding of fiction with history and despite the thrilleresque aspect of the plot, those facts, that history, is something you just don’t forget as you’re reading.
  • And the bad guy? He is so, so, so Evil.
  • I guess my main criticism so far is that sometimes some of the main characters do some pretty stupid things, things that make you want to take them by the shoulders and yell, “What on earth are you thinking? Stop it, and do the smart thing!”

Again, a huge thanks to TLC Book Tours, as I’ve been wanting to read this series for ages now, and the opportunity to participate in this readalong/book tour gave me the push I needed.

And now for the critical linking bit!

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon Barnes & Noble
 
Author Links: WebsiteTwitter, and Facebook

 

Reading: Natchez Burning, by Greg Iles

natchez-burning

Natchez Burning, by Greg Iles

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?

I confess, I’m supposed to be finished Natchez Burning today, for a TLC Book Tour, but I’m only about halfway through. But that has nothing to do with the book, and everything to do with life getting in the way of reading, as it has a tendency to do occasionally. I’ve had a ton of exciting things happen in the past month, not least of which has been landing a freelance contract with Scholastic Books in the U.S.–yay! It’s been a fun ride so far, but in the meantime, I haven’t had much time left for reading.

Which does make me sad. But I WILL finish Natchez Burning, and not just because I’m scheduled to write about The Bone Tree, book two of the trilogy, next month. Natchez Burning is a great read, and it’s a book I need to finish. I want to find out what happens!

Here, in list form, are my thoughts so far:

  • This is one intense read. From the very start, I could feel my heart beating faster, my entire body tensing up as I read.
  • It’s a good novel to read in these times. It’s given me much needed insight into the roots of the racial conflict we see today, and a better understanding of how it is, after all our years of progress, we still really aren’t very much further than we were in the 1960s when it comes to racial inequality.
  • It has been, at times, a gut-wrenchingly difficult read for me. Brutal violence washes through the pages, and when I sit back to take a breath, it brings me to tears to know that it’s a violence that’s not fantasy, not made up, but rather, solidly rooted in facts. Iles doesn’t hold anything back; there’s no sugar coating anything. To say it brings history alive is an understatement. I’ve also spent a lot of time while reading this book reflecting on man’s inhumanity to man.
  • Despite being a difficult read in that way, it’s also magnetic, pulling me through its pages.
  • And the suspense! It’s so suspenseful, for quite a few of its chapters, I’ve had to quickly flip to the end of the chapter to see how it ends, and then go back to the beginning of the chapter and find out how things got to that end. It’s a little bit of cheating, I know, but there’s no other way I can handle the suspense. Yes, it’s that good.

I have no doubt this will be a book that will stay with me for days when it’s done–weeks, probably. It has so many things going for it: it’s intense, it’s a thriller, it has such an epic sweep, it’s a multi-generational saga, it weaves history throughout its more contemporary timeline in an effortless way … I could go on and on. And that’s just based on what I’ve read so far!