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review 2017-12-17 16:47
Mississippi Blood
Mississippi Blood: A Novel (Natchez Burning) - Greg Iles

By: Greg Iles

Natchez Burning #3

ISBN: 9780062311153

Publisher:  William Morrow

Publication Date: 3/21/2017 

Format:  Hardcover 

My Rating: 5 Stars +++

 

The 30 Best Books of 2017

EPIC! 10 stars — Secrets of Mississipi’s violent past and a KKK group called Double Eagles are revealed. At the heart, the big question: Who killed Viola Turner?

Natchez Burning The first installment in an epic trilogy that weaves crimes, lies, and secrets past and present into a mesmerizing thriller featuring Southern mayor and former prosecutor Penn Cage, whose quest for the truth sends him deep into his father’s past. Top Books of 2014 

The Bone Tree In this second volume, Penn is caught in the darkest maelstrom of his life, as he fights his way out of the war he unwittingly started with a violent offshoot of the KKK, the Double Eagles, and continues to hunt for the truth about dark deeds from the 1960s. Top Books of 2015 

MISSISSIPPI BLOOD The endgame is at hand for Penn, his family, and the enemies working to destroy them. Featuring a trial scene that Publishers Weekly calls “among the most exciting ever written in the genre,” this novel delivers the shocking resolution Greg Iles’s fans have eagerly awaited.Top Books of 2017

The King of Southern Fiction, Greg Iles returns with his highly anticipated Natchez Burning trilogy, with his finale: MISSISSIPPI BLOOD – where we pick up following the murder of Viola Turner and the high profile trial of Dr. Tom Cage. 

The Penn family is in crisis. Sins of the past still haunt the present. 

Greg Iles is a master Southern storyteller and no one can compare! Skillfully crafted, a brilliant mix of Southern, historic, crime thriller, suspense, and classic literary fiction at its finest. He uncovers the moral outrage of racism, corruption, and hatred which has been a part of our history and still exists today- years after the Civil Rights era. 

“Mississippi blood is different. It’s got some river in it. Delta soil, turpentine, asbestos, cotton poison. But there’s strength in it, too. Strength that’s been beaten but not broke.” ― Greg Iles, Mississippi Blood 

 


Picking up from The Bone Tree, the Mayor of Natchez, Mississippi, former Houston prosecutor, and novelist Penn Cage is still grieving the loss of his fiancée Caitlin Masters. He still wonders if ghosts exist. He spends time visiting graves. Henry Sexton is dead. Caitlin is dead. Annie’s mother is gone —cancer took her to her death. 

Presently, Penn is dealing with his dad’s upcoming murder trial. Local physician, Thomas J. Cage is being held in protective custody in Louisiana by the FBI for the murder of Viola Turner, his former black nurse, and mistress. He was not even allowed to attend Caitlin’s funeral. Penn has not spoken to his dad, Tom since Caitlin’s death. 

The case has drawn national attention. Dr. Cage is accused of murdering his former 65-year-old black nurse in the wake of a pact that would have required him to euthanize the terminally ill woman who had been his employee thirty-eight years earlier.

In the final stages of lung cancer, she had returned to Natchez to die from Chicago. Being Cage is white and Nurse Turner was black, also complicated matters. In addition, it was recently revealed she had a child (Lincoln Turner) by Dr. Cage in 1968 while he was married. She was a widow at the time after her husband had been killed in the Vietnam War. 

Assisted suicide? Or if administers the drugs, it is murder. A mercy killing? He was charged with first-degree murder.

However, what really happened that night? Did he administer drugs, or when he left, who came in next? Did Viola inject herself or something more sinister at play? A botched injection? A heart attack? An overdose or the wrong drug? So many questions and few answers. 

What about the Double Eagles? Are they to blame? They have a history. Viola’s family wants justice. Lincoln set the investigation in motion. Does he have his own agenda? 

There is John Kaiser of the FBI. Cage is being held in protective custody because he is a material witness in a major federal investigation and his life is in danger. He is being represented by African-American civil rights attorney Quentin Avery of Jefferson County, Mississippi, and Washington, DC. 

Dr. Cage is keeping quiet. Avery his African American attorney in a wheelchair cannot discuss his case with Penn. What does Snake have to do with Viola’s murder? A recording of that night? Who are they protecting? 

The civil rights era of the 1960s remains present. Viola Turner’s brother (a civil rights activist) was murdered by the Double Eagle in 1968. She was also raped repeatedly by the same group and the KKK. Upon returning to Natchez, this brought fear to the group. They want her dead. They had warned her. 

Penn’s family is still under attack by Snake Knox and Double Eagles and the FBI cannot be counted on to protect them even though they live surrounded by bodyguards. Penn is raising his 11-yr. old daughter, Annie and his mom is staying near the prison in a motel, so he brings in the babysitter, Mia who has worked with them previously. His mom wants him to forgive his Dad enough to visit him in prison. 

However, if his father had not hidden the truth of what inspired on the night Viola Turner died, Caitlin would never have become obsessed with Henry Sexton’s quest or picked up his torch after he martyred himself to save them, or followed a bloody trail to the abomination called The Bone Tree. She would be alive. They would be together in Edelweiss, their dream home with Annie and well on their way to a child together. 

Penn’s work is suffering, and he is questioning his own sanity. Who is Quinton trying to protect? His family has imploded. 

His father had two sons and one of them was doomed to be an orphan. The happiness of his childhood was bought with the pain of a black boy who had hurt no one. He had a brother and long after his father passes his blood will flow through both their veins.

. . . “A man who has known love and grief and understands that one is the price of the other.”

 



An upstanding physician and friend to many. A man, not perfect. Dr. Cage is self-destructing and has every puzzled. Penn’s half-brother, Lincoln Turner, is hell-bent on destroying the Cages. Race relations, violence, corruption, evil, and those with hatred. Even though Lincoln and Penn have the same blood running through them, they grew up differently. 

To Lincoln, he had nothing growing up and Penn had it all. They are opposites. When Penn was striving for a baseball championship, with a highly respected physician and mother, Lincoln was scrapping in the streets and running from the Chicago PD. His stepfather was in and out of prison or gambling away his wife’s salary. 

All along while Penn was moving from a successful legal career to an author of legal thrillers, Lincoln was slaving in a small firm, chasing small-time cases until he was finally busted for embezzling escrow funds from a client trust fund. Doing so in a desperate attempt to save his stepfather (which he thought was his father), from a long prison term and had his license suspended. 

Penn can only image Lincoln’s rage. Now his mother is dead, and he wants someone to pay. Justice. Payback. Lincoln is the living symbol of his father’s sin. Perhaps, his crime. After all, it was Lincoln who set in motion the murder investigation. And now Lincoln haunts his city, his family like some dark, retributive spirit. 

Yet, Penn is resilient. Family and friendships are important. He must find a way to help. He can only hope that Lincoln can free himself from the lies that shrouded his youth and become what Viola dreamed he would be. A man who embodies the best of both his parents. 

Can the two brothers join forces and work together to solve this horrible wrong, to find the truth and attain justice for both father and mother? Time is running out for Dr. Cage. Unless Penn is successful at exposing the past to exonerate his father, his family will be destroyed. 

“ . . .Right meant more than might; that being faithful and good meant more than being rich; that honor superseded all.” 

Readers are introduced to a new character, Serenity Butler,(love her), a famous writer (light-skinned African American), and former army officer who steps in to tackle the Double Eagles. The beautiful and talented writer in Atlanta, from Mississippi originally. He cannot trust anyone, even his mother. However, he joins up with a young black author and former soldier named who has come to Natchez to write about Dr. Cage’s case. She may be his best ally. To help expose the dark secrets. 

Formed in the 1960s, the group’s mission is terrorizing and murdering African-Americans, and they are still at it today. The Double Eagles have reasons to want Viola Turner dead, and if their involvement can be proved, it will save Tom. Penn has to find a way. 

Heartwrenching, raw, emotional, complex, intelligent – Penn Cage desperately wants to believe in his father, the family martyr. The decisions his dad makes have terrible consequences for the entire family. Penn is tested. He wants to believe in truth and justice, but his beliefs and values are threatened and shaken to the core. 

No one can rest until the last of the Knoxes have been jailed, and the Double Eagles smashed for all time. 

Rich in Southern history, –From crusading journalists, racism, half-brothers, old lovers, old grudges, corruption, blacks-whites, fathers/sons, sons/mothers, strong family ties, protecting others, revenge, power, justice, and survival – Iles is at the top of his game with this extraordinary trilogy. 

Superb character development, action-packed with page-turning suspense —bringing the saga to a satisfying conclusion. While at the same time exposing the ugliness, cruelty and shameful episodes of our past. Unfortunately, not only does it exist in the American South - it is widespread. 

In 2011 the author was badly injured in an automobile accident and almost died, losing his right leg below the knee. Afterwards, he chose to go deeper with the story about family, race, prejudice, and secrets. His work is commendable! 

Of course, we fans are delighted with the news: Sony Pictures TV is developing a cable series based on the books, with producers Tobey Maguire and David Hudgins (a Dallas native) and director John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side”) attached. Can't wait! Let's hope they film it where it all took place, due to the author being an expert. Would not have the same impact, filmed elsewhere. 

If you have reviewed Iles' website you know (house/office) property is for rent in Mississippi, due to the steps. One of these days, my wish is to visit and experience the journey, while touring the places and landmarks in the book. Enjoyed reviewing The Map. 

“Mississippi Blood” is the capstone to what could legitimately be called a magnum opus. Iles has emerged from an excruciating ordeal to create a superb entertainment that is a work of power, distinction and high seriousness. These are angry novels, filled with a sense of deeply-considered moral outrage. They are also prime examples of what the thriller— and other forms of “genre” fiction — can accomplish when pushed beyond traditional limits. 

Often grim and frequently horrifying, these Natchez Burning novels set their larger historical concerns against the credibly detailed backdrop of a family in crisis. As the Cage family endures its own trial by fire, Iles shows us both the weaknesses and strength of people tested by extreme circumstances and by secrets and lies that have festered for too long. In successfully illuminating both the inner life of a family in peril and “the troubled borderland between black and white,” he has created something memorable and true.” – Washington Post



Well said. 

As always, with Greg Iles books in this series, you need to experience MISSISSIPPI BLOOD in all formats. The audiobook is a must (narrated by Scott Brick) for an amazing performance (have listened several times). Then of course, you "must" purchase the Kindle format in order to highlight the beautiful lyrics; and last but not least, the print copy is a given, to add to your personal library collection. 

USA Today: Greg Iles has his first-ever No. 1 USA TODAY best seller with Mississippi Blood the final book in his searing Natchez Burning trilogy. 

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/09/08/Mississippi-Blood
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review 2017-09-27 20:49
I Don't Think I Will Continue on With Trilogy
Natchez Burning - Greg Iles

This was not that an enjoyable read to me. I meant to read this when I went on vacation in May, but waited til now to get back to it. Way too long. Way too many POVs to keep straight. I really didn't find it believable when it was all said and done that one man could be this powerful to just straight up murder people and the law would look the other way. Maybe I am naive to have faith in things changing for the better, but I do. The look back at Mississippi at the dawn of the Civil Rights Era to the early 2000s was interesting, but this really needed to be edited. 

 

We follow several characters throughout this 865 page book. Yeah I read some really long books this weekend and my brain is still a bit angry at me about it. The series is called Penn Cage, but we follow Penn's POV, his father Tom's, his fiancee Caitlin, and a reporter named Henry Sexton. Plus all of the bad guys which I refuse to name here. 

 

When Penn is told his father who is the long time doctor of their town is about to be arrested for murder, he and his fiancee Caitlin do what they can to stop it. And when Henry tries to tie the murder with a weird offshoot of the KKK called the Double Eagles (I now hate the word Double and Eagles) things get very convoluted.  

 

I do wish that we managed to get the POV to more of the black characters we are introduced to in this book like Tom's former nurse, Viola Turner. That honestly is the reason why I knocked this book besides length down to two stars. We get everyone and their mother's POV, but only get one black character's POV at the very beginning of the book and he is quickly murdered.

 

I also was really annoyed how Iles portrayed the character of Viola Turner as some other worldly being that men just had to have. It just smacked too much of the whole exotic African American female trope that runs through movies and literature nowadays. Somehow when men just have to have her (rape her) well it's her own damn fault. I hated reading about how others saw her. I really think the author missed a chance there. 

 

I also didn't care for Caitlin and Penn as a couple. They are terrible together. Caitlin is another reporter and Penn seems to resent her wanting to be good at her job and a few times throws what she's doing under the bus to get to what he wants. I really think they need some couple's therapy to work out their issues.


I full stopped did not like Tom at all. Him refusing to say what was going on that was putting everyone in danger was ridiculous. It was like a bad lifetime movie where the the so called good guy keeps messing up to the extent that everyone he is supposedly keeping safe gets caught and hurt in some way. 

 

I won't lie. I stopped caring a good 50 percent of the way through this book. It was too long by far. Things needed condensed a lot. The flow was awful. I think the repetitiveness and lack of action going on for a good 90 percent of the book was why. I also cannot believe the FBI would not be able to handle a good portion of things introduced to in this book and the state police would be trumping them over matters of jurisdiction. 

 

The ending such as it was is just setting things up for the next book in the series which is called "The Bone Tree." Since the explanation behind what that means was introduced in this book, I can just imagine what that book will be about. Will hard pass it. I dislike books that end on cliffhangers. You had more than 800 pages to tell your story. If you need another book to do it, you failed. And apparently this story is going to take another book after "The Bone Tree" to be completed and that's a definite no from me. 

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review 2017-08-01 01:06
Turning Angel by Greg Iles - My Thoughts
Turning Angel (Penn Cage #2) - Greg Iles

As this is a DNF, I rated it 1/2 a star.

I tried.  I made it 70% of the way through this book before calling it a day.  I really wanted to like it.  I wasn't counting on another joyful find like the Armand Gamache books, but I was hoping to at least like the guy.  Sadly, it didn't happen.

I found this book to be filled with what I have come to understand as white man privilege, I guess.  All I know is that I found the tone of the book to be racist, both overtly and subtext as well as misogynistic.  For the latter, there is just too much what I might call Marty-Sueism having to do with the man in his 40s being beguiled, seduced, attracted to the sensual, not as innocent as she looks, 17 year old school girl.  Poor, helpless men.  *eyeroll*

And the portrayal of black people in this book?  SO very stereotypical in every way.  The only thing we're missing is the wise, loyal black housekeeper who basically brought up the children.  But then I checked some info on the first book in the series and it looks like she was murdered then.  These are attitudes I would expect to find in a book about the 1950s south and while things maybe haven't changed a lot down there since then - I don't expect the upright hero of the book to have those attitudes.

I just did not like the way this book was making me feel.  I found myself making that ... "Huh?  What?" face on more than one occasion.  It felt ugly.

I hate DNFing a book, it feels like a failure, but I have to remember, it's the book's failure, not mine.  I have book 3 in my e-TBR pile, but I don't know if I'll ever get to it. 

I am disappointed. 

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text 2017-06-15 21:01
Reading progress update: I've read 5%.
Natchez Burning - Greg Iles

Holy crap. I did not know this book was so long. I plan on finishing it up by this weekend. Sorry to all my BL-opoly peeps. I know I have been sparse lately. I have gone back and just pushed out books to my planning to read list and am going to get more focused on the next couple of weeks.

 

 

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review 2017-06-06 02:38
The Bone Tree Review
The Bone Tree - Greg Iles

1.5 stars rounded up. It was, in parts, "okay".

First and foremost, thank FUCK that is over. I started reading this on April 23 and I am just now, today, June 5, finished reading it. Considering I finished the other books in ten days or less, I gotta say my pace here is telling.

This book is a padded mess of inconsequential bullshit, and I would be the worst kind of fanboy if I ignored the hundreds of pages of filler here and five-starred this train wreck of a novel. But I think the WHY of the matter is the most interesting subject here, so let's discuss why I feel that Greg Iles stuffed this book to bursting with filler in order to create (or force) some kind of legacy.

Many years ago (2011, I believe), Greg Iles was in a car accident in which he almost died. He lost a leg and had a long recovery ahead of him. Before the accident, he'd written almost to completion a book called Unwritten Laws, which can still be found on Goodreads. The novel looked to be a direct follow-up of Iles's novel The Devil's Punchbowl because he mentions at the end of PUNCHBOWL that Cage's story will continue in 2011. Great. Wonderful.

Unfortunately for Iles fans, we will never get to read Unwritten Laws.

So what the fuck happened to Unwritten Laws? My theory is this: Greg Iles, fresh off almost dying, decided to chop the book up into three novels and pad them with some insane JFK subplot. If you were to strip the JFK nonsense from Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree you'd have a very tight, albeit lengthy literary thriller. I can only imagine that Mississippi Blood will lend further evidence to my theory, should I ever choose to read it. The JFK stuff is nothing but expositional dumps that are a fucking BORE to read. Had I not read and loved the previous four books in this series, I would have tossed this pile of overstuffed nothing out the window.

But why would Iles do such a thing? Because near-death experiences make people do weird shit. Look at Stephen King. After getting ran over in 1999, and the long recovery he suffered, we got the utterly garbage Dreamcatcher. But we also got the final three Dark Tower books. Nothing lights a fire under your ass like the realization your ass won't be around forever. So Iles came back to Unwritten Laws, butchered it, and added a bunch of JFK conspiracy theory nonsense in order to create, in his words, his "magnum opus".

Spoiler alert: It's never a good idea for an author to go into a project expecting it to be the greatest achievement of their career. I don't care how good you are, it never works out well. You end up coming off as a try-hard.

And Greg Iles tried too hard. This storyline did not need the JFK subplot. There is some terrific shit in this book, but it's all overshadowed by Greg Iles's attempts to create a literary legacy. You can pinpoint every scene that is tacked on because they feel exactly like that--tacked on. Every scene that doesn't mention JFK is superbly written, while every chapter that mentions the assassination feels like someone else wrote them. Someone drastically less talented than Iles has proved himself to be with previous books. The plot becomes so absurd that even the characters start commenting on it. Toward the end of the novel, Penn Cage says "Unbelievable" in response to another asinine and obviously forced plot twist. This is because, deep down, Iles knew how badly he was fucking up, but he wanted so much for it to work. So much, in fact, that the desperation drips from the page. "Please, believe this, dear reader! PLEASE!"

Iles drones on and on trying to make his theory plausible, but it never takes hold. By the end of the book, I was defeated and dejected. I'm seriously contemplating not reading the final book. I'm so goddamned disappointed. Because there is a good story in here. Somewhere.

FInally, we lose some cherished fan favorites, but their passing is tainted by the thriller-filler bullshit of the JFK subplot. I wasn't remotely affected by their passing, even though the scenes were well written. I remember how hard I took a major character's death in The Quiet Game and I can't help but feel like Iles failed the characters in this book. They deserved so much better than to be bookended by an insane subplot and cheesy thriller elements.

Why, man? Why?

Sometimes, authors are their own worst enemy. That's why.

In summation: No doubt the weakest book in the series, and definitely the worst Greg Iles book I've read. Nowhere near his usually high quality. A perfect example of an artist wanting too badly to be taken seriously when they were already fine the way they were. Super disappointed and unsure if I'll carry on to complete the series.

Final Judgment: NOTICE ME, SENPAI!

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