Monday, September 29, 2014

Greg Iles - Never A Misstep

I have just finished Greg Iles' latest, Natchez Burning.  It's the 1st in a trilogy and his 1st book in 5 years.  He had a serious car accident in March of 2011.  In fact, a couple of his doctors were sure he wasn't going to make it.  Well, he did.  But it did delay publication of his latest novel by a couple of years.  Did the accident affect his ability to write in any way?  Heck, no.  This guy is golden.  When people ask me (yes...some people actually do ask me) who are my favorite thriller/mystery/suspense writers, I always give them 2 names 1st - Harlan Coben and Greg Iles.

I have a lot to say about Natchez Burning.  In fact, it's going to take me a couple of posts to say it.  So, let me start by telling you what both Stephen King and Jodi Picoult have to say about this book:

"Natchez Burning is extraordinarily entertaining and fiendishly suspenseful.  I defy you to start it and fine a way to put it down; as long as it is, I wished it were longer.  There's a bonus: you'll finish knowing a great deal about the Deep South's painful struggle toward racial equality, and the bloody road between Then and Now.  Only a southern man could have written this book, and thank God Greg Iles was there to do the job.  This is an amazing work of popular fiction." - SK

"I don't know how Iles did it, but every single page of Natchez Burning is a cliff-hanger that will keep you devouring just one more chapter before you put it down to eat, work, or go to bed.  A mystery rooted in the real-life racial divides of the Deep South, this ambitious, unique novel is the perfect marriage of a history lesson and a thriller.  Greg? You owe me some sleep!" - JP

And what is the book/trilogy about?  Let's let Goodreads tell us.

"#1 New York Times bestselling novelist Greg Iles returns with his most eagerly anticipated book yet, and his first in five years – Natchez Burning, the first installment in an epic trilogy that weaves crimes, lies, and secret past and present into a mesmerizing thriller featuring Southern mayor and former prosecutor Penn Cage."

Let me add that this blends the South in the '60's with the South in modern times (2005). I've personally been around a long time.  I was a teenager in the '60's when racial inequality was a very hot national topic.  In fact, the Black Panthers, led by Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver, started in the '60's in the Bay Area, where I have lived all of my life. Now, here it is 40 years later (when the book takes place) and 50 years later for us reading it now.  And race crimes committed back then are still very hard to read.  You know it's fiction, but it really isn't.  And, in fact, a number of the crimes written about in this book came from real-life situations.  The book makes you cringe a bunch.  But Iles has combined a thriller with historical fiction to create a story that is, as King and Picoult said, extremely hard to put down.

I will give you some personal observations in Part II (does that look official?).

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