At a whopping 791 pages, Natchez Burning by Greg Iles may seem like too much book to handle, but actually I found it quite easy to read, and the 791 pages flew by in no time. This book is the first in a trilogy, the last book coming out in 2017, and it covers racial issues in the 60’s that never go away. Though this book is easy to read, it’s a book that you have to be in a certain mindset for. This isn’t a care free, breezy book, it has some dark corners, and some sexual content, and lies, lots of lies.
If you get your hands on this book, you will notice that along with racial issues, it’s about loyalty to family vs. loyalty to what you would consider justice. The story revolves around Penn Cage, who is apparently a recurring character in Iles books, but I have no previous experience with him. Cage’s father Tom was a well respected doctor in the 1960’s, that is until he gets accused of the murder of a black woman in a town filled with hate and racial deterioration. Penn wants to help his father, but his father isn’t speaking. Tom feels that justice will serve itself, and he doesn’t need to express what really happened that day.
Penn doesn’t want to leave this alone though, he feels that there must be a reason his father is hiding what truly happened with the nurse, and when he delves into the past of his father and his family, he realizes that there are some things that should just stay buried. With characters that are wholly loyal, trusting (even when they shouldn’t) and filled with heart Iles has created a masterpiece that ebbs and flows in time, through different issues, different scenarios and ultimately creates a wonderful mystery that unfolds like butter.
I love when a book makes you feel that you are in the time and location of the characters, and Iles does a wonderful job of incorporating parts of the south in the 1960’s (or what I assume it’s like since I’ve never been nor was I alive in the 60’s). There was just a great vibe from this book, and I cannot wait to read book 2 of the series. There is always another twist coming around the corner that you can’t see until it’s upon you, and that is one of the reasons why I love mystery books. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, pure gold.