After a five year absence, Greg Iles is back with the first of a trilogy of novels centering on his prosecutor turned best-selling novelist turned small town mayor Penn Cage.
The good news is that Natchez Burning is not only one of the longest books of Iles’ career, but it’s also one of the best — and it was certainly worth the wait.
When former nurse Viola Davis returns to Natchez, her arrival stirs up memories, undercurrents and long-buried secrets in not only the town but also in Penn’s father, Dr. Tom Cage. When Viola dies, apparently the victim of assisted suicide, local district attorney Shad Johnson can’t wait to bring Dr. Cage in on charges.
Staunchly believing his father to be innocent, Penn’s world is undermined when he figures out there are a lot of secrets his father isn’t telling him — not just about Viola, but also about how and why she left town so many years ago. But Penn isn’t the only one looking for answers — his fiance Caitlin and local journalist Henry are also digging for answers that certain members of the community and those in power would rather stay buried. And they’re willing to go to any means necessary to keep the truth from coming to light.
Iles takes us back to the small town of Natchez for his most explosive novel so far. Weighting it at 800 pages Natchez Burning is part thriller and part character study. Reading as Penn tries to determine if and how his father is involved in the situation gives the novels its drive and page-turning quality. While the book is a thick one, it doesn’t feel like one with the pages rushing by and you may get the feeling that the story is over far too soon.
And since this is the first of a trilogy, while some issues are resolves, there are still undercurrents, secrets and issues enough to make me eager to pick up the next installment, whenever Iles delivers it. I’m hopeful that it won’t take five years this time between new books from one of my favorite authors.
Natchez Burning is easily one of my favorite books I’ve read this year and I’m eager for more. Welcome back, Greg Iles.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of Natchez Burning from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. And also in the interest of full disclosure, when I saw that I could get an ARC of this novel, I couldn’t click fast enough to try and get my greedy hands on one.