Ellen’s Pick of the Week: The Bone Tree by Greg Iles

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“The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”  –William Faulkner

At the heart of Greg Iles’ Bone Tree lies a mythic old-growth cypress tree, deep in the swamps of Mississippi. Those who believe in its existence are mostly African Americans who have heard stories of atrocities perpetrated there in the 1960s by the vicious KKK offshoot called the Double Eagles. However, Henry Sexton, a local journalist has been quietly researching the Bone Tree and the Double Eagles, and it’s as if he’s disturbed a nest of killer bees. Suspicious deaths, including that of Sexton himself, bring in the FBI and, in spite of the danger, ambitious newspaper publisher Caitlyn b2ap3_thumbnail_gregiles_20150407-153638_1.jpgMasters takes over where Sexton left off, hoping to publish the story of the century. However, the surviving members of the Double Eagles, intend to prevent her from doing so.

The Bone Tree, and its prequel, Natchez Burning, are based on the work done by Stanley Nelson, a journalist who recently broke the story of the Silver Dollar Group and their involvement in a real series of unsolved murders from the Civil Rights era in Louisiana. Iles tells this complicated yet compelling story so well, that I ripped through the book just to find out what was going to happen next. Although never disappointed, I will have to wait patiently for the sequel to The Bone Tree, to learn the end of the story that he began telling with Natchez Burning. Highly recommended.

Ellen Jennings, ejennings@cooklib.org

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