Series: Natchez Burning 3
My version: Hardback
The endgame is at hand for Penn Cage and his family in this final volume in the epic Natchez Burning trilogy, set in modern-day Natchez, Mississippi – Greg Iles’ bold and ambitious saga of blood, honour and revenge.
Shattered by grief and dreaming of vengeance, Penn Cage sees his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone, his principles have been irrevocably compromised, and his father, Dr. Tom Cage, once a pillar of the community, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. Most terrifying of all, Dr. Cage seems bent on self-destruction and has frozen Penn out of the trial, preferring to risk dying in prison to revealing the truth to his son.
For decades, Dr. Tom Cage has had a second son known to almost no one, the product of an affair with his African-American nurse, Viola Turner. It is this bitter son – Penn’s half brother – who set in motion the case against Dr. Cage. But a murder charge may be the least of Tom’s worries. In the 1960’s South, Viola Turner became a nexus point between Penn’s father and the Double Eagle group, a savage splinter cell of the KKK. Now, led by psychopath Snake Knox, the surviving Double Eagles will stop at nothing to keep their past deeds buried, and they mean to ensure that Dr. Cage either takes the fall for them or takes his secrets to an early grave.
Unable to trust anyone – not even his own mother – Penn joins forces with Serenity Butler, a writer investigating his father’s case. Together, Penn and Serenity, a former soldier, desperately battle to crack the Double Eagle group and discover the secret history of both the Cage family and the South itself, risking the only thing they have left to gamble: their lives.
Just incredible. From start to finish. A real thrill(er) to read and prise and find out the answers that have swirled around since The Bone Tree. Even then…well, I think there could well be room, possibility, for a continuation. If what I’m thinking of is right.
This book has a lot to do and a lot to live up to. Natchez Burning set the standard and the bar for ‘ho’ley shit!’-reading, continued and then some by The Bone Tree an absolutely, unbelievably, incredible, three day, 800-odd page, blinding, rush of a read, where – as I think I noted at the time – my jaw was very rarely off the floor. I will admit then, that there was a nagging, at the edges of my anticipation, of trepidation. Could Mississippi Blood live up to The Bone Tree, provide the satisfactory answers, and be the finish an incredible series had led us to expect, to want. Yes, yes and yes yes yes. It is, it does, whatever. It even had me thinking he’d gone wrong and missed a trick or two until about 1/3 from the end, maybe later, when he blew me away and basically said “and that’s why you don’t write books, matey!”
When you’re done, when you’ve come down and calmed down, just take a moment or two to reflect on what he’s done here. This trilogy, (I was a newcomer to Greg Iles before Natchez Burning), part of a whole series of novels featuring Penn Cage and his family, is an absolutely monumental piece of creative work. What is it? 2,400-odd pages however you count them. An awe-inspiring feat of marshalling strands of story into a whole, keeping it focussed and on the money the whole way. Greg Iles is a real, real writer. I don’t know how to describe it, I was transported, sucked into the book and its world until everything in my world me disappears and there is just the story around me. I’ll risk saying, that there hasn’t been a better trilogy than this and that there never will be. I can’t think how there ever could be.
I have seen talk of a TV series, maybe done under Amazon’s umbrella. I hope so. I’d buy that.
Speaking of buying things…I got hold of an ARC to read, but bought both the UK (featured at the top) version and the US version in hardback. I’ve subsequently managed to get hold of a US version of Natchez Burning, though I originally read the UK paperback. Which explains the discrepancy in covers. I think you can see two of the covers at this link, which should be the Speesh Reads Instagram.
Related reviews on Speesh Reads: