Recently I read the second installment of Greg Iles' Natchez Burning trilogy entitled The Bone Tree. This series is very dark, and the villains and action completely over the top. But this is the fifth book Iles has written about the series' protagonist Penn Cage, and so far I prefer the first three books which are stand alone novels. The Bone Tree is definitely not a stand alone: If you haven't read Natchez Burning, don't even bother reading it.
Join us for a readalong of the Natchez Burning trilogy!
About The Bone Tree• Paperback: 832 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 13, 2016)
According to Goodreads:
#1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles continues the electrifying story he began in his smashing New York Times bestseller Natchez Burning with this highly anticipated second volume in an epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.
Southern prosecutor Penn Cage is caught in the darkest maelstrom of his life. The heartbreaking but seemingly straightforward death of his father's African-American nurse, Viola Turner, has fractured Penn's family and turned Dr. Tom Cage into a fugitive from justice. And in the search for his father and his reasons for running, Penn has unwittingly started a war with a violent offshoot of the KKK, the Double Eagles, whose members seem to know much more about Tom's past than Penn or his mother ever did.
Desperately following his father's trail, Penn finds himself in a maze of mirrors, beset on all sides by a family of criminals and corrupt police whose power reaches into the highest levels of state government. To even the odds, Penn must rely on allies whose objectives are very different from his own. FBI special agent John Kaiser sees Tom Cage as the key to closing not only countless civil rights murders, but also the ultimate cold case: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Penn's fiancée, journalist Caitlin Masters, is chasing the biggest story of her career and believes Tom can lead her to evidence of America's most secret, shameful history. In the end, all roads will lead to the mysterious Bone Tree, a legendary killing site that may conceal far more than the remains of the forgotten.
Penn now knows that the death of Viola Turner is a door to the darkest chapters of America's past. In the civil rights battleground that was 1960s Mississippi and Louisiana, powerful men had audacious, sweeping agendas, and their violent race murders concealed a conspiracy that ran wide and deep, involving the New Orleans Mafia, a Double Eagle hit squad, and a world- altering murder in Dealey Plaza in 1963. And if the FBI can be believed, somehow Dr. Tom Cage stands at the center of it all.
Enthralling, captivating, and utterly engrossing, The Bone Tree is a masterpiece of modern suspense and the next novel in the monumental trilogy that Greg Iles was born to write.
About Greg IlesGreg 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. Find out more about Greg at his website, follow him on Twitter, and connect with him on Facebook.
I read Natchez Burning about three weeks before I read The Bone Tree, and I'm happy that I read them that close together because there are so many characters and storylines to follow. The Bone Tree adds the assassination of JFK to the mix: this is my biggest criticism of the book. I read a lot of historical fiction, but Iles does a poor job of integrating the history with his fictitious conspiracy theories. It just doesn't work in this book, and if it had all been edited out the book would have been better and at least 100 pages shorter.
There is more over the top violence and ridiculously unbelievable rescues in this book as well. I know that Iles is a better writer than this. I know because I've read all of his previous novels but one. He doesn't need shock value to tell a good story. His plot points are so crazy that he expects way to much from me to maintain my suspension of disbelief. It's so disappointing! And what he's done to Dr. Tom Cage's character is unforgivable. His storyline is so messed up! I wish I'd quit reading about this family before this series because the danger and upheaval Tom is putting his family through is unforgivable.
Although there's lots of tedious repetition in the book, Iles throws out so many new characters with little explanation. I could have used a character log, truly. Maybe that's Iles' plan, to write a Natchez Burning Companion so the reader can keep everyone straight.
SPOILER: A major character dies in this book. I didn't care, either. Iles tries to give the character a condition to make the reader care, but when someone continually puts others at risk for selfish gains?
This character is selfish beyond belief. Hopefully the third installment will benefit from his or her demise.
DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of The Bone Tree from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Until next time...