I realized while reading the first novel in this trilogy, Natchez Burning by Greg Iles, that some of the events in the books were based on real-life events, in the real city of Natchez, Mississippi, which also happens to be where the author is from and still lives.
One of the characters in the books, Henry Sexton, the reporter who dug up many of the horrific crimes committed, is based on Stanley Nelson, the real editor of the Concordia Sentinel. One of the murder’s he reported on was the murder of a black shoe-shop owner, Frank Morris, in 1964. The Albert Norris character in the Bone Tree.
I also realized I was reading a haunting piece of America’s past, that took place in the 1960s, where violence and segregation, ruled in the Jim Crow South.
It’s an emotionally charged thriller that will take you to the edge and back following a bloody trail of buried crimes and present-day vengeance, throughout this epic trilogy. Beginning with Natchez Burning and continuing in The Bone Tree.
This trilogy must be read in sequence, you don’t want to miss a thing.
You should know that this is a trilogy within a series with protagonist Penn Cage.
In Natchez Burning, Penn Cage a fictional former prosecutor, turn novelist, now Mayor of Natchez, is learning that his father, Korean war hero and family doctor – Dr. Tom Cage, isn’t the man he thought of his whole life. His father, is accused of murdering his former black nurse, Viola Turner.
This review is based on Mississippi Blood, the spectacular conclusion to a no-holds-bar on race relations, love, secrets, family, and murder.
Dr. Cage is about to be tried for the murder of his former lover, Viola Turner, a beautiful young African-American nurse. In the 60s, when Tom Cage had his affair with Viola, a son (Penn’s half-brother) was born from this affair. However, racial tensions were at an all-time high in the South, and the KKK’s violence knew no bounds, this was a secret that had to be kept at all cost.
It’s this son (Lincoln Turner) that mostly through vengeance, instigated the trial of Dr. Cage, accusing him of murdering his mother, Viola. He wants his father in prison and will do anything to put him there, at least in the beginning. But for reasons we’ll learn, Dr. Cage refuses to mount a defense for himself.
With the trial coming, secrets are revealed, some deadly. We see that this case goes back to Natchez during the 1960s when several black men in town, one of them being Viola’s brother, were targeted and murdered because of their civil rights work, by the Double Eagles, a violent, ruthless and efficient, offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan.
These ruthless and savage members of the Double Eagles, felt they are justified in their raping, beating, torturing of black men and women. They went after anyone in the white community who tried to stand in their way, by supporting black folks.
As Penn digs ups buried evidence of racists murders and torture, that happened in the 1960’s, he and his family are put under 24-hour guard as the trial gets underway. But the more he digs into the past, the more threats he faces from the Double Eagles, who are hell-bent on destroying him and anyone who helps him, from digging up their secrets and forcing them to reveal their connection to his father’s case. Along with secrets of the Double Eagles, he also digs up his own family’s deepest secrets.
The evilest of the Double Eagles is Snake Knox, who intends on keeping the Double Eagles’ secrets buried, and that means he’ll kill his own blood brothers to silence them.
Pitted against such a vile and ruthless killer, Penn builds an uneasy alliance with his half-brother Lincoln Turner to save their father and rid the south of the Double Eagles once and for all.
“Our country’s messed up, son. Mortally wounded. And I can’t for the life of me see how we’re going to heal it,” Dr. Cage tells Penn. “We’ve got to acknowledge what we did to those people. But I don’t think we ever will. People hate admitting guilt. … Our people fight this so hard because they know the truth in their bones. You know? You don’t get that angry unless you know you’re wrong.”