Greg Iles fans: Good News! The Bone Tree begins exactly where Natchez Burning left off. That’s a big hoo-ray! The first book in this series was so intense that it was very difficult to wait this long for the second book. But, finally, it is now here. The Bone Tree is just as good as Natchez Burning. Here’s the publisher’s description of the story:
Former prosecutor Penn Cage and his fiancée, reporter and publisher Caitlin Masters, have barely escaped with their lives after being attacked by wealthy businessman Brody Royal and his Double Eagles, a KKK sect with ties to some of Mississippi’s most powerful men. But the real danger has only begun as FBI Special Agent John Kaiser warns Penn that Brody wasn’t the true leader of the Double Eagles. The puppeteer who actually controls the terrorist group is a man far more fearsome: the chief of the state police’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, Forrest Knox.
The only way Penn can save his father, Dr. Tom Cage—who is fleeing a murder charge as well as corrupt cops bent on killing him—is either to make a devil’s bargain with Knox or destroy him. While Penn desperately pursues both options, Caitlin uncovers the real story behind a series of unsolved civil rights murders that may hold the key to the Double Eagles’ downfall. The trail leads her deep into the past, into the black backwaters of the Mississippi River, to a secret killing ground used by slave owners and the Klan for over two hundred years . . . a place of terrifying evil known only as “the bone tree.”
The term “blockbuster novel” is the way I’ve been describing this series to my book friends. The story is big in terms of scope, plot, characters, issues and, yes, pages (816). This is the kind of book I like to set aside a block of time to just enjoy. And enjoy it I did.
As you can tell from the description above, there is a lot of serious danger going on. Penn’s dad is being sought by so many people that, wherever he hides, I am always afraid for him. There are so many bad cops/state police around that it’s hard to know who to trust.
Another scary part is the alledged existence of the Bone Tree. It’s supposedly a big hollowed-out cypress tree in the swamp that contains bones/bodies of old civil rights workers, etc. Almost everyone says that’s just a legend, but Caitlin, the reporter/publisher, has talked with enough reliable sources that she is determined to find it. She has promised everyone important to her that she won’t go there unless it is with plenty of help. (Yeah, right!)
In the first novel there was a hint that the Double Eagles (old KKK guys) may have had something to do with the assasination of John F. Kennedy. This subject gets plenty of play in The Bone Tree. I found it very compelling. Maybe Oswald wasn’t the lone shooter after all.
There’s one more thing that made this so amazing: the bad guy, Forrest Knox, was truly Evil. He has carefully worked to be in charge of everything in his world. He has moles in every law enforcement group in the southern Mississippi/Louisiana area. He also has the ability to control many of the communication and technology outlets in the area. On top of all that he is carefully working on a plan to replace his boss so he can control all police in the state. This is one very scary guy.
I only have one suggestion for improvement. The publisher needs to add some serious editing help to the author’s books. He has a tendency to ramble when he’s talking issues. For instance, some of the parts where the characters are talking about the JFK assassination was repeated at least three times. Please. I got it the first time.
In spite of that one flaw, I really liked both of these novels. I will be anxiously, but patiently waiting for the third book. When I hear that book #3 is about to be published, I’ll again set aside plenty of time to enjoy my visit down in this fictional area of southern Mississippi. I do hope they hurry.
I strongly recommend you read the first book (Natchez Burning) before you read this one. However, if you start reading The Bone Tree first, I’m happy to say the author took a few pages to recap the story.