Natchez Burning

Natchez Burning - Greg Iles I have to be in the right mood to read a book that’s 800 pages long because it means the storyline is extremely complex and intricate and there is a lot of character growth and development. The book Natchez Burning by Greg Iles definitely fits this description. A description of the book from Amazon is as follows: Growing up in the rural Southern hamlet of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned everything he knows about honor and duty from his father, Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor and pillar of the community is accused of murdering Violet Turner, the beautiful nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the early 1960s. A fighter who has always stood for justice, Penn is determined to save his father, even though Tom, stubbornly evoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses to speak up in his own defense. The quest for answers sends Penn deep into the past—into the heart of a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the Double Eagles, a vicious KKK crew headed by one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the state. With the aid of a local friend and reporter privy to some of Natchez's oldest and deadliest secrets, Penn follows a bloody trail that stretches back forty years, to one undeniable fact: no one—black or white, young or old, brave or not—is ever truly safe. With everything on the line, including his own life, Penn must decide how far he will go to protect those he loves . . . and see justice done, once and for all. I will admit I was extremely intimidated to start reading this book, based on two things: it was the first installment in a trilogy AND it is 800 pages long. Plus it’s from an author I had never heard of. Sure, reading Harry Potter at 800 pages isn’t intimidating because I’m familiar with JK Rowling and the books (and movies). Even though I had never heard of Greg Iles before, I have to admit that he is a great writer who keeps the reader engaged in his novel, despite it being “epic novel length”. The chapters were just short enough were I never felt bogged down or bored. There are sometimes excessive descriptions of everything, which I feel if Iles had edited just a bit, his book could have been cut down to 550-600 pages and still would not have lost any depth; however, these excessive descriptions don’t hurt the book or even necessarily bore the reader; they only add to it, which is a tricky thing as a writer to accomplish. The story and characters themselves reminded me a lot of characters you would find in John Grisham novels, with inspiration from books such as The Help, The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings, from a Southern tradition standpoint. I gave the book 4 stars because it was an extremely well written novel with a lot of different characteristics such as suspense, murder, betrayal, legal issues, etc. Very intricate and interesting novel that I would recommend to anyone brave enough to tackle a book of this length.