There is just a handful of authors whose books I absolutely must read as soon as they come out, and Greg Iles sits at the top of this short list. Mississippi Blood, his newest book and the conclusion of the best-selling Natchez Burning trilogy, is a page-turning, nail-biter of a wild ride. (If you’ve somehow missed the first two books in this trilogy, Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree, stop reading this now and go directly to the library to get them. This is a series you’ll want to read in order.)
Since the first book of the trilogy in which Penn Cage’s father, a beloved town doctor in Natchez, was accused of murdering Viola Turner, his long-time African American nurse, he has been working desperately to disprove that accusation. Because the wheels of justice were turning even more slowly than normal, Cage began his own investigation and discovered all sorts of deeply hidden secrets and crimes all involving a group of vicious old racists called the Double Eagles who make it quite clear they do not want him looking any deeper into their past. Cage also uncovers the “Unwritten Laws” that held more power in the deep South than any official laws on the books. There is no statute of limitations on murder, and these old racists will do just about anything to keep from dying in Angola Prison. Yet it becomes increasingly clear that they had something to do with Viola’s brutal murder. And Penn Cage will do anything to clear his father’s name. I was not able to put this book down until I’d reached the very last page. What a ride!
After finishing a great book or a thrilling trilogy, I usually feel a little lost and have trouble finding something good to read next. Luckily, I came late to the Greg Iles party and have not yet read the first trilogy he wrote about Penn Cage and his father. So my next good read will be The Quiet Game (1999), in which a much younger and recently widowed Penn Cage has returned to his hometown of Natchez looking for peace and quiet, but instead finds his family in serious trouble.
So, if you’re in the mood for a suspenseful thriller with great characters and excellent writing, you cannot go wrong with Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles. His books are perfect for spring break or any time you need a complete escape from your reality.
One more thing of interest: Some of the characters and ideas for this series were inspired by a real journalist’s investigation of the long trail of crimes committed by a group of Louisiana racists called the Silver Dollar Gang. You can read about him here: http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2014/04/26/small-town-editor-compelled-solve-mystery/8235145/