Friday, September 30, 2016
Published April 2015 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours
Former prosecutor Penn Cage and his fiancée, reporter and publisher Caitlin Masters, have barely escaped with their lives after being attacked by wealthy businessman Brody Royal and his Double Eagles, a KKK sect with ties to some of Mississippi’s most powerful men. But the real danger has only begun as FBI Special Agent John Kaiser warns Penn that Brody wasn’t the true leader of the Double Eagles. The puppeteer who actually controls the terrorist group is a man far more fearsome: the chief of the state police’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, Forrest Knox.
The only way Penn can save his father, Dr. Tom Cage—who is fleeing a murder charge as well as corrupt cops bent on killing him—is either to make a devil’s bargain with Knox or destroy him. While Penn desperately pursues both options, Caitlin uncovers the real story behind a series of unsolved civil rights murders that may hold the key to the Double Eagles’ downfall. The trail leads her deep into the past, into the black backwaters of the Mississippi River, to a secret killing ground used by slave owners and the Klan for over two hundred years . . . a place of terrifying evil known only as “the bone tree.”
I actually have three copies of this book - the copy the publisher sent for this review, an ARC copy the publisher sent review last May, AND, because I needed to "read" this big boy in a hurry, an audiobook "copy."
Iles did not write The Bone Tree to be read right after finishing Natchez Burning. In fact, one could, conceivably, skip Natchez Burning altogether and jump straight into The Bone Tree because Iles spends a lot of print catching readers up in this book. Those who have read Natchez Burning probably don't need as much background as there is here; those who haven't should before they read this one. Because, why would you start a trilogy on the second book for one thing? And because you may be up to speed on who is who and, to some extent, what has happened. But you have no depth and you need the depth. You need to understand the loyalties, the deep seeded hatred, the intricacies of alliances.
Because in The Bone Tree, beyond bringing readers up to speed Iles doesn't add a lot of deep to the story of Tom Cage's plight, Penn Cage's attempt to save him, Caitlyn Master's search for the big story, or John Kaiser's quest for the holy grail. This one's all about driving the action forward. And there is a lot of action. And a lot of death. Not all of which you will see coming and much of which is very violent.
When this book came out in 2015, my mom reviewed it here. She and my dad are big fans of Iles and they both liked this book a lot. As I was reading this book, particularly when I was listening to it, I a couple of things bothered me about it. When I went back and reread my mom's review after finishing the book, I realized that, despite enjoying the book, the same things had bothered her, too. Iles includes a lot of detail in the book, much of which didn't feel necessary. Cutting out that unnecessary detail, and what I felt like was a lot of repetition, would have helped cut down on a very long book (just over 800 pages). Up to a point, I was willing to try to suspend disbelief but Iles pushed things a bit too far for me to do it at the end of the book. My mom also felt the ending of the book stretched credulity.
All that being said, I'm now chomping at the bit for the final book in the trilogy to be released in March. I need to know who will finally survive the blood bath that's been the past week (yep, 1600 pages = 1 week in these two books) and I need to know that the surviving bad guys are going to get theirs. But mostly, I need to know how Penn and Tom will resolve the chasm that has opened between them. Because, damn it, I need to know that something good comes from all of those deaths!
Thanks to the ladies of TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. For other opinions about The Bone Tree, check out the full tour.
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