Thursday, May 11, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles

This is the 6th book in the Penn Cage series and the 3rd book in Greg Iles' Natchez Burning trilogy. Although I loved this series overall I was somewhat disappointed by the concluding entry in the series.

The books are incredibly complex, almost gothic tales of intrigue and suspense, set in the southern city of Natchez, Mississippi in "present day" and in the 1960s. The primary character is Penn Cage, a former criminal prosecutor turned best-selling author who is the son of Dr. Tom Cage, a white doctor who has lived in Natchez all his life and is respected by the white and black citizens of the town alike.

The book (and entire Natchez Burning trilogy) is animated by the secrets Penn's dad is keeping (and has kept) in the context of the explosive (and violent) racial politics of his hometown.

In Mississippi Blood  the primary plot is about the trial of Dr. Cage for the murder of Viola Turner, the beautiful black woman who was Tom's nurse in the 1960s and who was assaulted and raped and eventually exiled from her hometown by an extremely racist group called the Double Eagles (they separated from the Ku Klux Klan because that group wasn't hardcore enough on racial issues!) Viola was dying of cancer and the two had an assisted suicide pact.

My primary issues I had with this book was that the story just became a bit too operatic and unbelievable over time, with plot developments and shocking revelations occurring in the context of an extremely dramatic trial. To be honest, this was probably a weakness of the earlier books as well, but I looked past it because I was so invested in what was happening to the characters in those earlier books. (And all 6 books in the Penn Cage  series are action-packed, emotionally resonant thrillers also.) Because Mississippi Blood  is almost certainly the final book in the Penn Cage series, several bridges have been burned (and primary characters dispatched  in the earlier entries in the trilogy) so that somehow my connection to and interest in these remaining characters seemed less intense.

Overall, Mississippi Blood is a very suspenseful, action-packed, mystery-thriller with thought-provoking and complex racial politics woven throughout and an extremely compelling read.

Title: Mississippi Blood.
Greg Iles.
Paperback: 704 pages.
 William Morrow.
Date Published: March 21, 2017.
Date Read: May 10, 2017.


OVERALL GRADE: A (3.83/4.0).


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