Greg Iles new book “Natchez Burning” cuts deep into the wounds of the civil right movement and lays bare the (probable) atrocities committed during this dark time, particularly in Natchez, Mississippi. Inspired by actual cases, Iles combines fiction and rumor to put together a picture of Southern Mississippi gripped by the atrocities of the KKK.
The story revolves around a splinter group of the KKK called the “Double Eagles”, that considered the KKK not up to the task of keeping the “Blacks” in their place. The group is funded by Brody Royal, a person with “new” money and Mafia connections. His unfortunate daughter has had relations with a black boy and that sets a series of brutal murders in motion. Years pass but the group is still active and when a former witness returns to Natchez for her final days, they become prematurely final…Even though she is dying of cancer, her time is cut short and her former boss and the town doctor is accused of the crime. His son Penn Cage, the mayor and a former lawyer, must uncover the truth to save his father.
Greg Isles has a big story to tell and it takes all of almost 800 pages to do it. In the vision of Grisham’s “Time to Kill’ and Doug Marlette’s “Magic Time”, it is a difficult read. A number of times I had to take a break and ruminate, but it is worth every one of it’s 790 pages.