Last Thursday, I was one of the stops on the Natchez Burning blog tour, and today I’m bringing you my review of the second novel, The Bone Tree, for this blog tour stop! I’m thrilled to have been asked to partake in the global readalong for the trilogy by Greg Iles in anticipation of the final book, Mississippi Blood, out on March 28, 2017.
The Bone Tree picks up where Natchez Burning left off, with Mayor Penn Cage reeling after the horrors that he and his fiancée, and Natchez Examiner editor, Caitlin Masters just faced. His father, a respected doctor, is now a fugitive on the run after accusations of murdering his former African-American nurse. In the pursuit of justice and clearing his father’s name, Penn has unearthed a larger, more complex plot that involves an offshoot group of the KKK, the mafia and assassination conspiracies.
The Bone Tree is yet another hefty tome by the talented author Greg Iles, but similar to Natchez Burning, the story flies by. At just over 800 pages, there is rarely a dull moment as the continued efforts of Penn Cage and his team are revealed within the pages.
While the Natchez Burning focused a lot on the race relations of the South, and that underlying theme is not gone from the second book, The Bone Tree zeroes in on the larger plot afoot. The previous book set into motion a chain of events that opened a can of worms, leaving many of the characters in disbelief at what they were uncovering. The conspiracies revealed in this book run far and wide, and I actually initially didn’t even realize that many of the names that Iles brings up were actual people. So often when people talk about historical fiction, I think about stories that took place centuries ago, such as during the time period of the Tudors, but I feel this very much constitutes historical fiction as well. Iles has written a story that involves infamous moments in history, and weaving the accompanying real life conspiracies with his fictional story – so well done that I don’t know where it ends and where it begins. That being said, there were a few dialogue scenes between several characters, while pertinent to the narrative, felt like a lot of unloading of information. The data dump left me feeling overwhelmed to digest all the important information that was coming at me at once, and trying to retain all the names in my memory to keep straight. I do love the level of detail with which Iles has worked into this story but, for me, there were some chapters that felt like a lot to take in.
My one critique from the first book was about the quality of the female characters, and I’m glad to say that the sequel was much better in that respect. Other than one part near the beginning where I wondered why it was necessary to specify that the “female deputies” were to process all the people that, presumably, the males had arrested in a raid, I was glad to see more development and depth in the other women in the story.
The tension mounts from all directions as people start feeling the pressure. Secrets and misdeeds from the past surface, what once was a sure thing is now threatened, and how much one knows another is put into question. Iles has written a dynamic sequel to this trilogy and I am on the edge of my seat for the conclusion, due out in early 2017.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4 /5 stars)
Available: April 21, 2015
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A free copy of this book was provided by Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review as part of the Greg Iles Natchez Burning Trilogy tour.