Monday, May 11, 2015

The Bone Tree by Greg Iles - A Guest Review

The Bone Tree by Greg Iles
Published April 2015 by William Morrow
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary:
Former prosecutor Penn Cage and his fiancĂ©e, 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.”

**My parents are fans of Greg Iles and particularly enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, Natchez Burning. When I got the email from the ladies at TLC Book Tours announcing that this book was available for review, I knew just the person to read and review it. I almost accepted it without even asking my mom! Here, for another of her wonderful reviews, are Mama Shepp's Mama's thoughts. Thanks, Mom!

My Mom's Thoughts:
Almost anyone can related to the joy of getting to meet up with dear friends after time has elapsed. Thus it was with me when I discovered Greg Iles new book THE BONE TREE at my house and I knew that I could return to Mississippi and catch up with my friends in Natchez and surrounding areas.

Because I had so enjoyed NATCHEZ BURNING, I was very eager to get into the new book and see what tales of intrigue were awaiting me. And I was not disappointed. The book contains not only romance but mystery, family life, racial tensions, Kennedy assassinations, Fidel Castro, tales of the swamp with its unfriendly creastures, and immense concentrations of devotion and friendships that run very deep–both for good and evil..

Iles does a good job in his prologue of setting the stage for this new book and relating the reader to what has transpired in NATCHEZ BURNING. Does the reader need to read Natchez? It would certainly help (and the reader would enjoy book 1) but it is not a necessity*. It might help if the new reader made a list of the characters as they are introduced (including those that are deceased) and their relationships Or post-it-notes for reference might be a helpful aid.

The book continues with the story of Dr. Tom Cage who has been accused of killing his former nurse Viola, a black lady who was more than just a nurse. Tom has run from the law along with his former Texas Ranger friend Walt and Tom’s adventures are the theme for much of the events that occur in the book. Tom’s son Penn is again our hero and his finance Caitlin Masters, newspaper editor and sleuth, pair up to solve the case and to encourage Tom to turn himself in–he is wanted also for another killing. The Double Eagles play a major role in the happenings, adding a disdain for human life and deep disregard for the black race. Their control of much of the state patrol and local police adds depth and more layers to an already complex story. And throughout the book we are led again and again to this tree known as the bone tree–we are not even always sure it really exists. We are not always encouraged to think Tom Cage has done the right things, and we are witnesses of crimes that cause us to cringe and back away.

In the end–well, I will not tell what happens in the end. This is, after all, a mystery; and the reader must discover the end results. But I will tell you that enough ends are left hanging to cause us to hope that Iles is ready to continue the saga in a third book. Not all of the characters will return–is that a broad enough hint to what might happen in this continuation?

There were only a few things that caused me to question the book. In places I felt too much detail had been added. I withheld judgment to see if the details were needed, but I felt they were not. I also felt the ending stretched credulity and might have been handled in a more realistic way. I would have liked a map of the area showing where each of the cities were in relationship to each other and the swamp. I got lost in proximity and distance.

But all in all, it was an extremely interesting book that captured my attention and caused me to lose sleep and contact with real life. I am eager to see if a third book will come and how all the issues will be resolved. Write fast, Mr. Iles!

My dad is now reading the book and it's his opinion that you really should read Natchez Burning before this book. 

Greg Iles spent most of his youth in Natchez, Mississippi, and studied the American novel under acclaimed southern writer Willie Morris at the University of Mississippi. His first novel, Spandau Phoenix, was the first of thirteen New York Times bestsellers, and his new trilogy continues the story of Penn Cage, protagonist of The Quiet Game, Turning Angel, and #1 New York Times bestseller The Devil’s Punchbowl. Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries. He is a member of the lit-rock group “The Rock Bottom Remainders” and lives in Natchez with his two teenaged children.


  1. What a great review! Thanks so much! I loved Natchez Burning last year and discussed it with my mystery book group in April. I have The Bone Tree here and will get into it soon. Just waiting for the right moment. I am a big fan of this author and especially of his Penn Cage books. A map is a great idea. And this author does have a way of 'letting go' of some characters. Not surprising that everyone doesn't make it. My understand is that the last book in the trilogy will appear next spring - May perhaps. The title right now is Unwritten Laws, but guess that might change.

  2. I'm glad to see that this was a worthy follow up to Natchez Burning! Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  3. My dad just finished it and it's back in my hands. Now I need to get both of the books read!