Natchez Burning

Greg Iles, Author
Greg Iles. Morrow, $27.99 (800p) ISBN 978-0-06-231107-8
Reviewed on: 02/10/2014
Release date: 04/29/2014
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Much more than a thriller, Iles’s deftly plotted fourth Penn Cage novel (after 2008’s The Devil’s Punchbowl) doesn’t flag for a moment, despite its length. In 2005, the ghosts of the past come back to haunt Cage—now the mayor of Natchez, Miss.—with a vengeance. His father, Dr. Tom Cage, who has been an institution in the city for decades, faces the prospect of being arrested for murder. An African-American nurse, Viola Turner, who worked closely with Tom in the 1960s and was in the end stages of cancer, has died, and her son, Lincoln, believes that she was eased into death by a lethal injection. Tom refuses to speak about what happened (he admits only that he was treating Viola), which prevents Cage from using his leverage as mayor to head off charges. The mystery is inextricably interwoven with the violence Natchez suffered in the 1960s, including the stabbing of Viola’s brother by Ku Klux Klansmen in a fight. The case may also be connected to the traumatic political assassinations of the decade. This superlative novel’s main strength comes from the lead’s struggle to balance family and honor. Agents: Dan Conaway and Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (May)
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