Book Review: Natchez Burning

Natchez Burning
:  Greg Iles

Published by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins, April 29, 2014

Genre: Literary, Mystery, Historical, Adventure, Legal Thriller

Source: Publisher, via TLC Book Tours

Massive is the word I’ve given to every one of my person-to-person book-loving friends over the last two weeks when I’ve talked about Natchez Burning. And now to you, my online book-loving friends, I’m giving it to you. This book is massive in every possible way we normally think about books. The story itself is huge. I’ll tell you about that in a minute. The characters? They too are enormous, but not in a giant-cardboard-cut-out kind of way. No, the people are real and there’s a remarkably large number of them.

You are going to want to read this book along with a lot of other people. I believe it’s heading for the best-seller list. It’s that big. First, let me share the publisher’ description of the book:

Raised in the historic southern splendor of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned all he knows of honor and duty from his father, Dr. Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor and pillar of the community has been accused of murdering Viola Turner, the African-American nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the 1960s. Once a crusading prosecutor, Penn is determined to save his father, but Tom, stubbornly invoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses to even speak in his own defense.

Penn’s quest for the truth sends him deep into his father’s past, where a sexually charged secret lies waiting to tear their family apart. More chilling, this long-buried sin is only a single thread in a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the vicious Double Eagles, an offshoot of the KKK controlled by some of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the state. Aided by a dedicated reporter privy to Natchez’s oldest secrets and by his fiancée, Caitlin Masters, Penn uncovers a trail of corruption and brutality that places his family squarely in the Double Eagles’ crosshairs. With every step costing blood and faith, Penn is forced to confront the most wrenching dilemma of his life: Does a man of honor choose his father or the truth?

As you can see, this is an action-crammed story. There’s a good bit of civil rights history and how that has carried over to today. There’s a serious conspiracy theory in here about how the two Kennedys and Martin Luther King were killed. There is both good and sloppy police work, as well as a bit of dirty politics. The author threw in human interest, a little romance, gossip, and lots of drama.

I absolutely loved the main character, Penn Cage. He was a prosecutor in Houston but he’s now back home in Natchez. Penn is the mayor of Natchez as well as a novelist. Penn is the kind of man who is full of honor and loyalty. He’s what some would call an old-fashioned “principled” man. He’s very protective of his family and the people he cares about, as well as his hometown.

Most of the story is told from Penn’s first-person perspective. The rest revolves around him. There are a huge number of characters. They all fit, whether they are performing horrific KKK activities or the crusading journalists or law enforcement members. Be warned: there are some extremely nasty and vicious people in here. There’s also graphic violence and numerous uses of the “n” word.

I began reading Natchez Burning on my kindle because I reacieved an uncorrected copy. I was almost half-way through the story when I thought about how good this would be in audio. There is so much drama and action that I thought it would work well in that venue. I was right. It’s an excellent audio book narrated by David Ledoux.

When I went to check if it was an audio I noticed the audio book takes almost 36 hours to listen to. I was surprised! At the time I didn’t even realize the print book was 800 pages long. I was so absorbed in the story that I didn’t think about the length. That should tell you something: this book is so absorbing that you lose track of hours and page numbers.

Don’t let the length of the book stop you from reading or listening to Natchez Burning. As I said in my opening paragraph, this book is massive and that’s a wonderful thing. If you are like me, reading a good story, getting lost in it, is why reading is my number one lifelong hobby. In this case, the length means I’m having a wonderful time that lasts much longer than most books.


Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of it all. To see other stops on the book tour, visit the schedule here: Tour Schedule

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5 Responses to Book Review: Natchez Burning

  1. I’d heard this book was huge. I’m glad to see it’s worth reading though. The author will be here Thursday night but I’ll have to miss the event. 🙁

  2. Oh, wow, this sounds really wonderful – perfect for a book group read! I will add it to my list. Thanks for the great review!


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  3. kelley says:

    this sounds like a really good book. I loved the way you described it in your review. I’ll consider this one when I’m feeling like tackling something massive.

  4. Pingback: Greg Iles, author of Natchez Burning, on tour April/May 2014 | TLC Book Tours

  5. I LOVE massive books like this, especially on audio. I can’t wait to lose myself in this epic read.

    Thanks for being on the tour! I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

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