This is book number 4 in the Penn Cage series.
During the height of racism in the south, a special action "wrecking crew" is formed directly from the Klan organization called the Double Eagles. Many people have been tortured and died under the hands of these half dozen vets who have had firsthand experience at killing. With the belief that a civil war is necessary to shatter the plastic surface of the American Dream, bloodshed becomes imperative. Viola, a young attractive black woman whose younger brother is involved in the Civil Rights movement, is a prominent nurse working for Dr. Lucas. The obsessed activist becomes a target and pawn for a much more complex plan of destruction and assassination by the Double Eagles. As time passes, Dr. Lucas and Viola's professional relationship progresses into a romantic one. As the mounting tension of prejudice sweeps the southern states, the two find themselves in grave danger with nowhere to turn. Their actions put them over the line of neutrality among the conflict of races and completely in danger from the KKK. Fast forward to present time. A murder mystery has developed which has opened old wounds and hidden secrets. A successful local newspaper man begins an unbelievable investigation that makes the guilty very nervous. Along with a well-known lawyer, they uncover cryptic conspiratorial secrets, but unfortunately the deadly menace responsible for these horrendous crimes of racism has also been awakened.
Greg Iles returns to his familiar top writing form with his release of Natchez Burning. This thriller has a familiar setting of the South yet with a terrifying concealed past. As the story unfolds the characters are chosen by Iles to be woven among a cold case type backdrop during the Civil Rights era. A saturation of investigation guides the flow of the novel with a defiance towards the silence of race related crimes. As these atrocities are sorted out, the characterization separates the truth from legend with a painstakingly honest reproduction of historical facts mixed with a fictional stage. Natchez, Mississippi, a southern slave-holding capital, becomes the central focal point of nasty racism during the fifties. The educated wealthy aristocrats and the large number of poor whites help build the charade of death and its unpredictable turns. With the nonstop undertones of his chosen subject matter, this New York Times bestselling author knows how to entertain, educate, and produce a product that is worthy of much praise.
“Penn Cage is the mayor of Natchez, Mississippi, and life is pretty good for him, his fiancee, and his daughter, until a call from the district attorney sends his world reeling. His father, Tom, a respected and beloved family physician, is accused of murdering Violet Davis, who worked as his nurse during the turbulent 1960s. As Penn tries to save his father, he is forced to confront the brutal and violent past of his hometown during the fight for civil rights. With strong characters and a taut story line that spans 40 years, Iles delivers a blockbuster that will leave readers hungry for the next two installments in what will surely be an epic trilogy.”
— Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles comes the first novel in his Natchez Burning trilogy—which also includes The Bone Tree and the upcoming Mississippi Blood—an epic trilogy that interweaves crimes, lies, and secrets past and present in a mesmerizing thriller featuring Southern lawyer and former prosecutor Penn Cage.
Raised in the southern splendor of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned all he knows of duty from his father, Dr. Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor has been accused of murdering the African American nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the 1960s. Once a crusading prosecutor, Penn is determined to save his father, but Tom, stubbornly invoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses even to speak in his own defense.
Penn's quest for the truth sends him deep into his father's past, where a sexually charged secret lies. More chilling, this long-buried sin is only one thread in a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the vicious Double Eagles, an offshoot of the KKK controlled by some of the most powerful men in the state. Aided by a dedicated reporter privy to Natchez's oldest secrets and by his fiancée, Caitlin Masters, Penn uncovers a trail of corruption and brutality that places his family squarely in the Double Eagles' crosshairs.
With every step costing blood and faith, Penn is forced to confront the most wrenching dilemma of his life: Does a man of honor choose his father or the truth?
Greg Iles spent most of his youth in Natchez, Mississippi. His first novel, Spandau Phoenix, was the first of thirteen New York Times bestsellers, and his new trilogy continues the story of Penn Cage, protagonist of The Quiet Game, Turning Angel, and #1 New York Times bestseller The Devil’s Punchbowl. Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries. He lives in Natchez with his wife and has two children.