Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Audiobook Review: Natchez Burning, by Greg Iles

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles book cover an review
At almost 36 hours, I think Natchez Burning is the longest book I've ever listened to. But it was good!

Natchez Burning is the 4th book in the Penn Cage series.  I didn't realize that.  Somehow I thought it was the first.  But as I was listening, it seemed like some of the things referred to were probably in a previous book.  I don't think it's necessary to read the others first, though. (Although I have put them on my list.)

Penn Cage is the mayor of Natchez, Mississippi.  His father, Dr. Tom Cage, has been a respected physician in Natchez since the 1960s.  He is respected by both white and black people and has always treated them fairly.  When Tom is accused of murdering his long-time African American nurse from the 1960s, Penn believes there won't be a problem clearing him given his reputation.  His nurse, Viola, was in the last days of suffering from cancer, and even though euthanasia is illegal, with Tom's reputation things should be okay.

But they are not.  Tom is keeping secrets from Penn, and they have to do with an elite group of the KKK called the Double Eagles murdering several African Americans in the 1960s. Penn hooks up with Henry Sexton, a local reporter who has been researching these cases for many years, to try to figure out how to help his father.  And Henry, of course, wants to bring the Double Eagles to justice.

This story goes on and on, but there's never a dull moment.  Iles provides quite a bit of background at times, but Natches Burning never failed to keep my interest. There are many colorful (and vile) characters who are constantly putting each other in danger. And many descriptions of torture beyond belief. It is incredible to me that this all happens in the span of four or five days, I believe.

The harrowing conclusion builds and builds and I had invested so much time, but I still thought the ending was really abrupt. There were some major loose ends that are left hanging, and I just needed more wrap up of the aftermath and time for my emotions to subside.

The narrator, David Ledoux, has a great voice and distinguishes the characters without going over the top.  He is, however, pretty slow.  After about half way through (and my third time checking this out), I decided speeding it up to 1.5X was perfect. (I used my library's audio download service, which automatically checks things back in after 3 weeks.  There was a wait list for this book, so I had to wait three times in between listening. This took me a while to finish.)

I enjoyed Natchez Burning and like Penn Cage enough to see what else he gets up to.  If you are willing to spend the time, I highly recommend it.

Published by William Morrow, 2014, audio by HarperAudio, 2015
Audiobook obtained from the library
880 pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. This sounds like a good series of books; I'll keep an eye for them

  2. I thought NATCHEZ BURNING was the first book, too. I'm glad you mentioned that it isn't as I hate starting series anywhere but at the beginning!


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