NATCHEZ BURNING by Greg Iles
Kirkus Star

NATCHEZ BURNING

KIRKUS REVIEW

A searing tale of racial hatreds and redemption in the modern South, courtesy of Southern storyteller extraordinaire Iles (The Devil’s Punchbowl, 2009, etc.).

Natchez didn’t burn in the Civil War, having surrendered to the Yankees while its neighbors endured scarifying sieges. It burns in Iles’ pages, though, since so many of the issues sounded a century and a half ago have yet to be resolved. Some of Natchez’s more retrograde residents find it difficult to wrap their heads around the idea that men and women of different races might want to spend time together, occasioning, in the opening episode, a “Guadalcanal barbecue,” as one virulent separate-but-unequal proponent puts it. The Double Eagles, an even more violent offshoot of the KKK, has been spreading its murderous idea of justice through the neighborhood for a long time, a fact driven home for attorney/politico Penn Cage when the allegation rises that his own father is somehow implicated in the dark events of 1964—and, as Iles’ slowly unfolding story makes clear, not just of that long-ago time, but in the whispered, hidden things that followed. As Penn investigates, drawing heat, he runs into plenty of tough customers, some with badges, some with swastikas, as well as the uncomfortable fact that his heroic father may indeed have feet of clay. Iles, a longtime resident of Natchez, knows his corner of Mississippi as well as Faulkner and Welty knew theirs, and he sounds true notes that may not be especially meaningful for outsiders—for one thing, that there’s a profound difference between a Creole and a Cajun, and for another, that anyone whose first three names are Nathan Bedford Forrest may not be entirely trustworthy when looking into hate crimes. His story is long in the telling (and with at least two more volumes coming along to complete it), but a patient reader will find that the pages scoot right along without missing a beat.

Iles is a master of regional literature, though he’s dealing with universals here, one being our endless thirst to right wrongs. A memorable, harrowing tale.

Pub Date: April 29th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-231107-8
Page count: 800pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2014




9 WRITERS AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME:

ChildrenWE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart
by E. Lockhart
FictionNATCHEZ BURNING by Greg Iles
by Greg Iles
NonfictionCAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY by Thomas Piketty
by Thomas Piketty

OUR CRITICS' TAKES ON MORE BESTSELLERS

See full list >
Cover art for THE PATRIOT THREAT
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for AT THE WATER'S EDGE
VERDICT:
SKIP IT
Cover art for IN DEFENSE OF A LIBERAL EDUCATION
VERDICT:
BUY IT
Cover art for BETWEEN YOU & ME
VERDICT:
BUY IT

MORE BY GREG ILES

FictionTHE BONE TREE by Greg Iles
by Greg Iles
FictionTHE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL by Greg Iles
by Greg Iles

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionTWO SOLDIERS by Anders Roslund
by Anders Roslund
FictionSYCAMORE ROW by John Grisham
by John Grisham
FictionTHE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt
by Donna Tartt
IndieGLASTON TOWN by Céline La Frenière
by Céline La Frenière