Customer Reviews for

Natchez Burning (Penn Cage Series #4)

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

I've read everything Greg Iles has ever written - he's an incred

I've read everything Greg Iles has ever written - he's an incredibly talented wordsmith. His novels are all quite different but with one similarity - they're addicting reads. (And bestsellers as well)

His latest book Natchez Burning has just released and it's an absol...
I've read everything Greg Iles has ever written - he's an incredibly talented wordsmith. His novels are all quite different but with one similarity - they're addicting reads. (And bestsellers as well)

His latest book Natchez Burning has just released and it's an absolutely fantastic read - easily his best novel yet. It's been a while coming - Iles nearly died in an auto accident five years ago.

Natchez Burning is the fourth book to feature lawyer Penn Cage, now the mayor of Natchez, Mississippi.

Present day - Penn's father, Tom, the town doctor for over fifty years has been accused of murdering a black woman who was his nurse in the 1960's. Tom is known and loved by all of his patients, black and white. And Tom knows his father - there's no way he would have done such a thing. Penn is determined to clear Tom's name - even as Tom refuses to rise to his own defense. Penn's search for answers takes him back to...

"...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 centre 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."

A splinter group of the Klan, calling themselves the Double Eagles, has been operating in Natchez for over fifty years, manipulating, controlling, killing and conspiring in this southern State. They're driven by hate and greed, with no intention of ever stopping. But Violet's death is the tipping point. Secrets buried and kept for a half century threaten to take down anyone and everyone - black and white.

Where to start? Each and every character Iles brings to the page is fully developed and the reader can't help but become engaged (or disgusted) with every player. I've been a fan of Penn Cage from the first book, but found other favourites in Natchez Burning. I quiet enjoyed Tom, described as Atticus Finch with a medical degree. Iles explores the relationship between Penn and his father, as every belief he holds about Tom is put to the test in Natchez Burning. But my favourite was Henry, the newspaper reporter who has been pursuing the Double Eagles for many years.

"Fate doesn't let men choose their wars. Or even their battles, sometimes. But one resolute man can sometime accomplish remarkable things against overwhelming odds."

Although Penn is the main voice of this novel, other characters are given a turn and we see the past and present from many differing views. Natchez Burning does not shy away from the violence that is the truth of this time and place. Gentle readers, there are some disturbing scenes and descriptions that may not be for you. Iles based his novel on actual events that occurred in Ferriday, Louisiana. Read the article from Stanley Nelson here. Or visit the Civil Rights Cold Case Project.

I loved the cover as well. Those heavy grey clouds hanging over the town, with the red simmering and a small glimmer from that one cloud. Kudos to the art department on this one. It perfectly captures the story within.

And that story is powerful, gripping, thrilling, sweeping and simply spectacular - 800+ pages that flew by for this reader. Absolutely, positively recommended. Natchez Burning is the first of a trilogy. I'll be waiting and watching for the second book - The Bone Tree.

posted by Twink on April 30, 2014

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Most Helpful Critical Review

28 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

Twink

Twink...please do not reveal everything in your review. Most of us like to read a book and be surprised by what we read, not have you give us a readers digest condensed version. It is very rude and inconsiderate. Please think of other readers before ruining another book...
Twink...please do not reveal everything in your review. Most of us like to read a book and be surprised by what we read, not have you give us a readers digest condensed version. It is very rude and inconsiderate. Please think of other readers before ruining another book with a plot spoiler. Thank you.

posted by 8888649 on May 6, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2014

    Twink

    Twink...please do not reveal everything in your review. Most of us like to read a book and be surprised by what we read, not have you give us a readers digest condensed version. It is very rude and inconsiderate. Please think of other readers before ruining another book with a plot spoiler. Thank you.

    28 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 30, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I've read everything Greg Iles has ever written - he's an incred

    I've read everything Greg Iles has ever written - he's an incredibly talented wordsmith. His novels are all quite different but with one similarity - they're addicting reads. (And bestsellers as well)

    His latest book Natchez Burning has just released and it's an absolutely fantastic read - easily his best novel yet. It's been a while coming - Iles nearly died in an auto accident five years ago.

    Natchez Burning is the fourth book to feature lawyer Penn Cage, now the mayor of Natchez, Mississippi.

    Present day - Penn's father, Tom, the town doctor for over fifty years has been accused of murdering a black woman who was his nurse in the 1960's. Tom is known and loved by all of his patients, black and white. And Tom knows his father - there's no way he would have done such a thing. Penn is determined to clear Tom's name - even as Tom refuses to rise to his own defense. Penn's search for answers takes him back to...

    "...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 centre 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."

    A splinter group of the Klan, calling themselves the Double Eagles, has been operating in Natchez for over fifty years, manipulating, controlling, killing and conspiring in this southern State. They're driven by hate and greed, with no intention of ever stopping. But Violet's death is the tipping point. Secrets buried and kept for a half century threaten to take down anyone and everyone - black and white.

    Where to start? Each and every character Iles brings to the page is fully developed and the reader can't help but become engaged (or disgusted) with every player. I've been a fan of Penn Cage from the first book, but found other favourites in Natchez Burning. I quiet enjoyed Tom, described as Atticus Finch with a medical degree. Iles explores the relationship between Penn and his father, as every belief he holds about Tom is put to the test in Natchez Burning. But my favourite was Henry, the newspaper reporter who has been pursuing the Double Eagles for many years.

    "Fate doesn't let men choose their wars. Or even their battles, sometimes. But one resolute man can sometime accomplish remarkable things against overwhelming odds."

    Although Penn is the main voice of this novel, other characters are given a turn and we see the past and present from many differing views. Natchez Burning does not shy away from the violence that is the truth of this time and place. Gentle readers, there are some disturbing scenes and descriptions that may not be for you. Iles based his novel on actual events that occurred in Ferriday, Louisiana. Read the article from Stanley Nelson here. Or visit the Civil Rights Cold Case Project.

    I loved the cover as well. Those heavy grey clouds hanging over the town, with the red simmering and a small glimmer from that one cloud. Kudos to the art department on this one. It perfectly captures the story within.

    And that story is powerful, gripping, thrilling, sweeping and simply spectacular - 800+ pages that flew by for this reader. Absolutely, positively recommended. Natchez Burning is the first of a trilogy. I'll be waiting and watching for the second book - The Bone Tree.

    9 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 6, 2014

    I have read Greg Iles  books before with varying degrees of appr

    I have read Greg Iles  books before with varying degrees of approval but with this book I was concerned with the length of the book and whether or not it would hold my interest, about half way through I tired of the subject matter and gave up.  I felt he could have written a fine book in about half the size.   One knows where the storyline is going and it just didn't hold my interest.  Good luck to the ones who do read it hopefully you will not have that problem.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    OUTSTANDING!!!!! This is one of the best "who-dunits"

    OUTSTANDING!!!!!
    This is one of the best "who-dunits" I have read in a very long time. I read a lot of Greg Iles, but this
    is by far the best he has done. I only hope we don't have to wait very long for the sequel. This is great
    writing. Keeps you going the entire book.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

    Disappointed

    After having read many positive reviews of this book, I looked forward to reading it with eagerness.

    I read the tome, all 838 pages, so I obviously found it compelling...but still disappointing in the final analysis. Against the backdrop of the ugliness of the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the 60s, a much more poignant story could have been told if two of the principal characters, Penn and Caitlin, were more than caricatured, one dimensional 'super heros', and the plot involving them wasn't so totally over fabricated. The turmoils they experience are a bit far-fetched, and out of dime detective novels.

    The 'sins of the father' may have to be paid for by the son, but Tom Cage is a far more three-dimensional and believable character than Penn.

    Don't think I'll be reading the second rendering of this purported three book sequence.



    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2014

    Great read!

    Great read!

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    While this story was a page-turner, it was bloated by too many c

    While this story was a page-turner, it was bloated by too many characters, too much gratuitous brutality and too many unbelievable scenarios.  We get the point about good guys and bad guys; don't run it into the ground.  What started as an intriguing story of 1960's era civil rights murders turns preposterous as it unfolds.  This would have been a much better story if it were about three hundred pages shorter and far less repetitive in it's themes.  I understand that the author is setting up a trilogy, but if some of the fat had been cut from this thing, I might be hungrier for the next installment when it's released. Right now, I'm not sure I'd want to commit to another long novel in the series if that outcome will be dissatisfying. 

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2014

    I didn't think it would ever end. Totally implausible, too much

    I didn't think it would ever end. Totally implausible, too much killing, too much everything. And now that I 
    have finished it, I don't think I even like Penn, Caitlin or Tom anymore.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The best thriller, suspense, and gripping novel of 2014!

    Amazing and brilliant writing! I have only read one of Greg’s books, THIRD DEGREE, some years ago, and when I began reading all the rave reviews of NATCHEZ BURNING – knew I had to purchase the audiobook—Greg, nor the narrator, does not disappoint!

    Penn Cage is a former prosecutor and Mayor of Natchez, Mississippi. The Penn Cage series “involves all the quintessentially Southern themes—family, racial violence, ‘miscegenation,’ honor, hypocrisy, and the quest for justice in an unfair society…”

    The novel reminds me a little of FORTY ACRES by Dwayne Alexander Smith, coming out July 1, 2014 (which I had the opportunity of reading an advanced reading copy)-and highly recommend. Both FORTY ACRES (slavery) and NATCHEZ BURNING are definitely my votes for BEST BOOKS OF 2014, thus far. Both thrillers, page-turners, different twists with same racial violence involving southern hate crimes, dark secrets, politics, and powerful men seeking revenge.

    In 1968 there are murders of two black civil rights activists, Luther Davis and Jimmy Revels, and the brutal gang rape of Revels’ sister Viola. These and other atrocities were carried out by the Double Eagles, an ultra-violent splinter group of the Ku Klux Klan that plays an increasingly significant role in this saga.

    The narrative begins in 2005, with Viola, who moved to Chicago, after the 1968 assault, is suffering from lung cancer and has returned to Natchez to die. When her death occurs under questionable circumstances, suspicion falls on Tom Cage, Penn’s father and a revered local physician who has served all levels of Natchez society for decades.

    The widespread belief that Tom and Viola were once lovers lends substance to the suspicion that he was personally involved in her death. When Tom, racked by private guilt, refuses to defend himself, Penn initiates his own investigation, one that leads directly to the hidden, still hazardous secrets of 40 years before.

    Among those who assist Penn in his quest for the truth are two dynamic journalists from different generations. Caitlin Masters, Penn’s fiancée, is a Pulitzer Prize winner whose need to pursue a breaking story frequently conflicts with Penn’s more personal agenda. Henry Sexton is a small-town reporter who has spent the bulk of his career gathering evidence on the unsolved crimes of the civil rights era. Henry is one of Iles’s most vivid, credible characters, and his obsessive search for dangerous truths provides the novel with both its wider historical context and its moral center.

    There is so much to this novel, covering topics such as loyalty to one’s family versus loyalty to truth and justice, cost of professional ambition, and sexual relations between the races. More importantly, the pervasive impact of past events and ones refusing to remain buried. The quest for the truth sends Penn searching for answers back to the turbulent years of the civil rights movement.

    Greg Iles at his BEST – his faithful fans, as well as new readers, will welcome him back with open arms, with this incredible journey into the dark past which proves "Truth is rarely pure and never simple." Oscar Wilde!

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2014

      cant wait for the next book.

      cant wait for the next book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Penn Cage is the mayor of Natchez, although he was previously a

    Penn Cage is the mayor of Natchez, although he was previously a novelist and a practicing attorney. He is an honest and ethical man, and devoted to his family. He has taken on the role of mayor in the hopes of saving his hometown from corruption.

    Penn’s father Dr. Tom Cage has been the town's well respected doctor for decades. He’s seen it all. And now he is being charged with the murder of his old nurse Viola. Tom and Viola worked together in the ‘60s, during the heat of the civil rights movement. Now she’s been found dead, and there is video footage of her death, leaving Dr. Cage charged with her murder.

    Henry Sexton owns the local paper and has spent decades investigating the local branch of the Double Eagles, an off-shoot of the KKK. He's been driven to uncover the truth when no one else seemed to care, attempting to connect the Double Eagles to countless murders from the '60s, and leading back to one of the country's wealthiest men Brody Royal. Henry has often felt alone in his battle for justice, and his attempts to bring closure and validation to the surviving family members of murder victims.

    I was very excited for the opportunity to read this book, as the subject matter is right up my alley. However I was unaware that this is #4 in the Penn Cage novels by Greg Iles. It's always a little disappointing to enter a series partway through, with the constant allusions to previous novels. There are characters that are reintroduced and mentions of past events. However this book stands on its own just fine. There was no need for me to have read previous editions in order to follow this one.

    Penn is a very likable and believable character, as is his father Tom. Penn is engaged to Caitlin, who is a driven Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Sometimes her fierce competition to be the best and break the next story can bring her at odds with Penn, as she resents when he holds back information that she could use.

    I found this story to be absorbing, if at times a little uncomfortable. The subject matter is often unsettling, but necessary. These types of stories are our history, particularly here in the south, and we mustn't forget our history, lest we repeat our mistakes. The KKK and other similar organizations are the most cowardly of all "activists". They perpetrate their actions cloaked in darkness and hoods and anonymity. They have a history of committing heinous crimes and cruelty, driven by a twisted belief that they are somehow superior.

    My final word: I loved this book so much I have already bought the first one in the series (The Quiet Game) in order to start from the beginning with Penn Cage.

    This book shows the yellow underbelly of the cowards that fill the ranks of white supremacist groups, as well as the heroism of those who fight them, and who struggle to uncover the truth.

    This book spotlights both the best and worst of men, and does so expertly. Natchez will be burning in my heart and mind for a long time coming!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2014

    Couldn't put it down!

    I am glad I read this on a Nook and didn't know how long it is, because at 850 pages, it is definitely a commitment! I usually don't read books with a lot of violence, but I was intrigued by the setting of the South during the civil rights period as well as in the present. That said, violence aside I simply could not put this book down. It switches viewpoint characters and time periods, but Penn Cage is definitely the protagonist. It left me wanting to read more about him, and though there are several "Penn Cage" novels, I couldn't figure out where NATCHEZ fit into a "trilogy." As there were several frustratingly loose strands at the end of the book, I wrote the author and learned that NATCHEZ is the FIRST in a trilogy that includes THE BONE TREE (due out next April) and UNWRITTEN LAWS (the year after that). The other Penn Cage novels, in order of release, are:
    The Quiet Game
    Turning Angel
    The Devil's Punchbowl
    The Death Factory (a novella in ebook format only)

    I was sad to reach the end of the book, sad that a great ride was over, if not complete.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    Hoping Iles Writes Fast!

    I love Greg Iles writing style and have purchased and read everything he has written. This was a truly great book until the last page - I invested several sleepless nights in reading this 830+ page novel, hating the need to get some sleep. Here I am at 3:30 AM reading the last page without realizing it is the last page, thinking one last chapter is going to tie everything up and the next page is - ta da! - Acknowledgements! What a letdown. Then I read this is a trilogy! I absolutely hate reading a story made into a series before all the books are finished because inevitably I have to reread the first book again because it takes so long for the books to be written. Four stars is only a reflection of my disappointment that I must wait at least a year to find resolution for a three day story that lasted 830+ pages - historical sagas taking place over decades make for great series or trilogies, like LeCarre's recent trilogy. This story would have been been better presented as a stand alone book. The story was powerful and well written enough that I would very happily have read another several hundred pages to find resolution.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2014

    The book was very good, however it left me with unanswered quest

    The book was very good, however it left me with unanswered questions,  There has to be a sequel

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2014

    Isles Doesn't Disappoint!!

    When I first purchased this new novel by Greg Isles, I was surprised to see that it was over 800 pages. Isles is so adept at follow-through that it was a seamless transition from the last Penn Cage novel (The Devil's Punchbowl) to Natchez Burning. About that 800 page thing...it literally flies by. Can't put this one down and am really glad to know Natchez Burning is the first in a trilogy. I've read all of Mr. Isles' books and this is one great read!!

    Mr Isles, please don't make us wait so long for the next one...Penn Cage is a real winner!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    One of his best

    This story is as exciting as you can get,I couldn't put it down

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2014

    I like Ile's books about Natchez; but this one was too long and

    I like Ile's books about Natchez; but this one was too long and left too many questions unanswered at the end. For exaample, at one point Caitlin has only 4 hours before a meeting with Penn and her publication deadline; but about 100 pages of activiy occur that could not possibly have occurred in real time during that four hours. After 800+ pages, I expected closure for all the characters and subplots, at least for this story rather than wait for a sequal. It does not need a sequal, the history and storylines that might emanate from Natchez willl create opportunities for the next story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2014

    I came here to leave a complaint because the ending left so many

    I came here to leave a complaint because the ending left so many things unsettled in the story. But now i realize it is a trilogy and all will be made clear in future books. I loved this book. It kept me hooked till the end. I will be impatirntly waiting for the next book in this series.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2014

    As always excellent.

    As always excellent.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    Excellent

    Excellent

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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