Review: Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles

Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles is the final installment in the Natchez Burning Trilogy set within the larger Penn Cage series (available March 21, 2017). 

Mississippi Blood is the last book in Greg Iles’s Penn Cage trilogy, which has captured the hearts and minds of readers who love their fictional suspense novels expertly mixed with the true events of history—in this case the horrors of racial violence in the South. New York Times bestselling author Iles’s novels have been made into films, translated into more than twenty languages, and published in more than 35 countries worldwide. A native son of the South, Greg Iles lives in Natchez with his two teenage children. 

Crumbled by grief and with dreams of vengeance, Penn Cage sees his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is dead, his principles have been severely compromised, his young daughter lives in terror, and his father—once a leading moral figure of the community where Penn is mayor—is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. 

Dr. Cage was once the most respected and beloved physician in Natchez, Mississippi, but he has secrets known only to himself and a few others. For one, he has a second son, the product of a decades old affair with his loyal and loving African-American nurse, Viola Turner. Viola has been murdered, and her son sets in motion the murder case against his father, who he believes murdered her.

The other secret is Dr. Cage’s connection to the Double Eagles, a vicious group that has broken off from the KKK. The long-buried secrets shared by Dr. Cage and the former Klansmen may hold the key to the most devastating assassinations of the mid-20th century. The surviving Double Eagles will stop at nothing to keep their past crimes buried, and with the help of some of the most influential men in the state, they seek to ensure that Dr. Cage either takes the fall for them, or takes his secrets to the grave.

Time is running out for Dr. Cage. Unless Penn can expose the past and exonerate his father, his family will be destroyed. But Penn has no one he can trust, not even his own mother. He joins up with a young black author and former soldier named Serenity Butler, who has come to Natchez to write about Dr. Cage’s case. With an ability to gain the trust of people who may know the secrets hidden deeply in their souls, Serenity proves to be Penn’s best ally.

Together, Penn and Serenity fight to gain information from the Double Eagles in order to discover the secret history of the Cage family from a time of dark and sinister happenings in the South. In doing so, they risk their very lives.

We found the house Carl Sims had described without too much trouble. It was more shack than house, really, but it stood alone at the end of a dirt road, just as Carl’s father, Reverend Sims, had said it would. The road itself didn’t register on my GPS unit, but it was there nonetheless. Mrs. Washington’s shack leaned like a listing ship or a house drawn in a Dr. Seuss book, but no canted house in Whoville ever looked so poor. I could see through cracks between the unpainted barn boards of the front exterior wall, and a patched tin roof had been dented by a hundred fallen limbs. Behind the dwelling was a junk-filled gully filled with trees being slowly strangled by kudzu.

The raised porch was the kind that often sheltered a mean dog who would attack anyone who approached, but no animal emerged as Serenity and I walked up the steps. No one answered our knock. Then a curtain fluttered in the widow to our right, and a gray cat leaped onto the sill and regarded us with intense curiosity.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“She’s in there.”

Mississippi Blood is the breathtaking ending to an expertly crafted trilogy. In this final edition, author Greg Iles masterfully illuminates the brutal history of the American South in a fictional setting of page-turning suspense. Well-written and a must read.

See also: Review: An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock by Terry Shames


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Kristen Houghton’s new novel, Unrepentant: Pray for Us Sinners, book 3 in her best-selling series A Cate Harlow Private Investigation, is available at all book venues.

She is the author of nine top-selling novels and is hard at work on a new series that features a paranormal investigator with distinct powers of her own. Houghton is also the author of two non-fiction books and numerous short stories which appear in popular horror anthologies.


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