Natchez Burning

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles is a novel of epic scope that incorporates real events from history as well as fictionalized occurrences that are based on real criminal cases. Beginning in the early 1960’s in Mississippi with a brutal killing by the Ku Klux Klan, Iles sets the historic stage for his tale before leaping to 2005 where the fallout from the racial hatred that was so rampant during the civil rights movement finally begins to hit home. Secrets and lies come to light and relationships are called into question as doubts abound. Without slowing his narrative or having an ounce of dry professorial droning, the author manages to provide an engaging and insightful history of the black/white division in the South during this tumultuous time in America. There is a vast conspiracy that weaves itself throughout the story, at the center of which is a megalomaniac who seems both absolutely terrifying and frighteningly real. Every character, in fact—from the main protagonist to those who only appear in a scene or two—feel lived in and fully realized. When I read the final page, I was begging for more and dying to know what happened next, and with a page count of just under 800, that is quite a feat. Thankfully this is only the first installment of a planned trilogy, and I can’t wait for the second one.

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