Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles
A father on trial for murder. A son whose world is falling apart.
Former prosecutor Penn Cage sees his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone and his father, Dr Tom Cage, once a pillar of the community, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover.
For decades Tom Cage has had a second son known to almost no one. It is this bitter son who set in motion the murder case against Dr Cage. But a murder charge may be the least of Tom’s worries.
The Double Eagle group, a savage splinter cell of the KKK, will stop at nothing to ensure that Tom either takes the fall for their past deeds, or takes his secrets to an early grave.
Unable to trust anyone – not even his own mother – Penn battles to discover the secret history of both the Cage family and the South itself, risking the only thing he has left to gamble: his life.
So the wait is finally over, for the 3rd instalment in the Penn cage trilogy. I discovered Natchez Burning (#1) back in 2014, it was my book of the year! I then went on to devour The Bone Tree (#2) at the same fast pace. I can’t recommend this trilogy or series, highly enough! It is absolutely first rate in terms of depth, complexity and emotions. Greg Iles doesn’t tell you what to think, he just delivers the facts! You will feel, what you will feel!
The novel opens 9 weeks after the events of The Bone Tree. Those familiar with the trilogy, will know there were some catastrophic developments within the novel, yet we were still left waiting for answers! There are some characters from within the series and some new ones on the journey too. Keisha Harvin was one of my particular favourites in this novel. Keisha is sassy, no nonsense and a veteran of war.
Ultimately the novel centres around the court case where Dr Tom Cage, local physician and hero is on trial for the murder of his former nurse Viola Turner. His son and local Major Penn cage, must navigate the many discoveries and emotions thrown into this case. This case is exceptionally complex, not only due to its themes of race. But the added scheming of the Double Eagles (a spin off from the KKK) an extremely violent and racist group, hell bent on covering up their past crimes. Which lead to the pasts of both Dr Cage and Nurse Viola. It features the corrupt cops/judges, meth trade, blackmail and bribes rife in the deep south’s past and present.
One particular moving scene is between Lincoln Turner (love child of Dr Cage and Viola Turner) and Penn. Where the story line touches upon the different lives they lead due to race, opportunity and secrets their lives hold. I found this incredibly moving and a very accurate contrast between the two characters. Brothers by blood but an entirely different raising. Obviously the novel has a theme of racism, but it’s not just a plot focused on solely racism. It explores race in many forms such as politics, justice, interracial relationships, framing of black men for crimes, fear in the black community, the collaboration between police & KKK, secrecy and sadly that, that it is just the way that it is/was. I did ponder that the excuse, it was another time/era, is an all too familiar approach to historical racism. But as the novel points out “Times change, but not at the same speed, everywhere”.
I was surprised not to see the quote sins of the father……….
Due to the complex father/son relationships portrayed. However, it was more focused around, the racism of the past equates to consequences for the future and “Mississippi Blood, beat but not broke” powerful words indeed. This is possibly one of the most brutally honest novels, you will ever read. Just when you think you have a handle on the plot, it will shift and become much more complex. Highly recommend 5*
#1 Natchez Burning
#2 The Bone Tree
#3 Mississippi Blood
Penn cage trilogy within the series.