Reader Review: Natchez Burning

Book cover for Natchez Burning by Greg IlesFans of bestselling author Greg Iles eagerly anticipated his current suspense novel “Natchez Burning.” Even before the book was released, reviewers lobbed it out there as a must-read. The book takes on racial history in the South. The protagonist is Penn Cage, a former prosecutor who becomes a novelist and Mayor of Natchez, Mississippi. The book leads with historical background about horrific murders that took place in the 1960s, which included two civil rights activists and a music store owner and their killers, the secret ultra-violent group known as the Double Eagles, a splinter group of the KKK.

Penn’s life intertwines with the cold case murders when his father, the beloved small town doctor, is accused of murdering his former nurse, Viola Turner. Viola worked for the doctor in the 60s and returned to Natchez when she was dying of cancer. Penn believes it’s the Double Eagles, not his father, who murdered Viola to keep her from revealing secrets from the past. Viola’s brother disappeared in the 60’s and Viola had been gang raped by the Double Eagles.

In his quest to vindicate his father, Penn finds the key to the past in Henry Sexton, a reporter for a small town weekly paper. Henry has been a one-man crusade to solve the cold case 1960s murders. While Penn relies on Henry’s investigation, Penn’s fiancé works for a competing daily newspaper and diligently pursues getting an upper hand on Henry’s story that could be another Pulitzer Prize for her. A dying Double Eagle member confirms Henry’s suspicions about the venomous organization. Penn wants to poke a stick into the rattlesnake den to see what came out. He finds it is impossible to know who to trust.

The book is projected to be the first in a trilogy. It is a suspenseful, traumatic and terrifying story. Brave investigative reporters seek the truth.

An amazing part of the background story is what happened in the author’s life. Isles was in a near fatal auto accident before the book was released.

Three words that describe this book: suspenseful, traumatic, terrifying

You might want to pick this book up if: You like brave investigative reporting, civil rights history, stories about good battling evil written in a suspenseful setting and are not afraid of an 800-page book!

- Karen

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