Greg Iles’ ‘Natchez Burning’ Is A Powerful Novel Everyone Should Read

Home in Natchez, Mississippi

Home in Natchez, Mississippi (Photo by Jathan Fink, Jadeworks Entertainment)

Greg Iles’ Natchez Burning is a deep, thought-provoking novel about what it was like to live in the South when the Double Eagles, a vicious KKK cell, were in power.

“If a man is forced to choose between the truth and his father, only a fool chooses the truth” (1), Iles writes in the prologue. This theme resonates clearly throughout this intricately plotted and absorbing novel.

Greg Iles' 'Natchez Burning'


Tom Cage, a respected and deeply loved doctor in Natchez, is accused of murdering his former nurse. That is when Mayor Penn Cage, Tom’s son, must sift through years of simmering racial hatred to uncover the truth.

At what cost to family, friends or personal honor will justice finally be served? Can one ever really escape the consequences of acts committed during a time when racial tensions were fraught with such violence?

Iles writes Natchez Burning with such candor and emotional acuity, the reader is able to view the events and traditions of the South and understand how it has shaped everyone touched by it.

As Tom Cage says, “Fate doesn’t let men choose their wars. Or even their battles, sometimes. But one resolute man can sometimes accomplish remarkable things against overwhelming odds” (347).

Iles creates many richly drawn characters such as Penn, Tom and Henry, an investigative reporter, who want to triumph over injustice yet struggle with why it exists.

“So let us begin in 1964, with three murders. Three stones cast into a pond no one had cared about since the siege of Vicksburg, but which was soon to become the center of the world’s attention. a place most people in the United States like to think was somehow different from the rest of the country, but which was in fact the very incarnation of America’s tortured soul. Mississippi” (3).

This is Greg Iles‘ most powerful and personal novel yet, one that reveals the recent history of the Deep South with all of its tragic horrors and indelible flaws. Despite all the secrets and lies that some would keep buried, it is a triumphant story of redemption that I dare you to put down.

By Greg Iles
800 pgs. William Morrow. $27.99.

Greg Iles

Greg Iles (Photo courtesy Caroline Hungerford)

About Greg Iles

Born in Germany in 1960, Greg Iles spent his youth in Natchez, Miss. and attended college at Ole Miss. His first novel was published in 1993. He is a member of the legendary lit-rock band, The Rock Bottom Remainders. He lives in Natchez with his wife and two children. His next novel, The Bone Tree, will be out on April 21, 2015. Meanwhile, Natchez Burning will soon become a cable series with Sony and Amazon Studios, according to Deadline.

About Heather Fink
Heather Fink is a writer, bibliophile and award-winning librarian who loves to introduce the next generation of readers to the wonderful world of books. She currently resides in Texas.

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