Anne Bonny #BookReview Cemetery Road by Greg Iles 5* #CrimeFiction #AmericanNoir #LegalThriller

Cemetery Road by Greg Iles
My Own Copy ~ Hardback

Synopsis ~

Two murders. One Town. And a lifetime of secrets.

‘Pure reading pleasure’ Stephen King

The No.1 New York Times bestselling author of the Natchez Burning trilogy returns with an electrifying standalone. A tale of friendship, betrayal, and shattering secrets that threaten to destroy a small Mississippi town.

Some things should never be uncovered…

When successful journalist Marshall McEwan discovers that his father is terminally ill, he returns to his childhood home in Bienville, Mississippi – a place he vowed to leave behind forever.

His family’s newspaper is failing; and Jet Turner, the love of his youth, has married into the family of Max Matheson, one of the powerful patriarchs who rule the town through the exclusive Poker Club.

Bienville is on the brink of economic salvation, in the form of a billion-dollar Chinese paper mill. But as the deal nears completion, two murders rock the town to its core, threatening far more than the city’s economic future.

Marshall and Jet soon discover a minefield of explosive secrets beneath the soil of Mississippi. And by the time Marshall grasps the long-buried truth about his own history – and the woman he loves – he would give almost anything not to face it.

My Review ~

I am a huge fan of Greg Iles and was very much looking forward to reading this mammoth book beast! I had heard from some early reviewers that Cemetery Road was very similar to the Penn Cage series and in particular the Natchez trilogy. Greg Iles is know for his deeply layered and complex stories and this one did not disappoint!

The title opens with Bienville (Mississippi) local archaeologist Buck Ferris. We are aware he is digging on private property and that he has discovered Native American bones. When he is subsequently attacked and left for dead due to his discovery, we become aware there that Bienville Is much more than the sleepy forgotten American town.

Marshall McEwan is a successful journalist that ran away from Mississippi many years ago, when he was just 18yrs old. He returns 28yrs later due to the health needs of his elderly father Duncan. Duncan McEwan is a legendary newspaper editor of the Bienville watchman. His health is in rapid decline due to his alcoholism, anger and depression. Both men are haunted by the death of Marchall’s brother Adam over 20yrs ago.

‘To understand this story, you must swim between two tides like a person moving from wakefulness to sleep and then back again’

Over the first few pages of the title we become acquainted with several of Bienville’s residents, whom all hold close ties to Marshall. From Quinn Ferris (Buck’s wife), to Denny Allman a 14yr old home-schooled loveable delinquent and Bryon Ellis a county coroner concerned with the crime rates in the African American community. We learn how each character fits into Marshall’s life and why the death of Buck Ferris wounds him so greatly.

 Marshall is a Pulitzer prize winner, a veteran of the Afghan and Iraq wars. Yet there is so much more emotional depth to his character than initially thought. We learn more about the death of his brother Adam and the impact this had on Marshall’s relationship with his parents, friends/locals and most importantly himself. Marshall has Never truly recovered from Adam’s death.

‘A fourteen-year old boy doesn’t need to know grief can last that long’

In the town of Bienville there is a massive wealth divide in the community. Between those that live rich and affluent lives and those who live in near poverty. Inequality in America is a HUGE issue and I have also seen the economic and political consequencesof it within my own country too. I felt that Greg Iles does a brilliant portrayal of this in a fictional form. The struggles of Bienville, feel very real!

‘Not caring is the same as begging for fascism’

As Marshall Looks into the case of Buck’s death, at the request of his wife. He learns something sinister is afoot in Bienville. Something very sinister, that leads all the way to his first love Jet Matheson…
The Matheson family pretty much own Bienville and if Marshall wishes to uncover their secrets, he will have to tread very carefully indeed.

‘A town like Bienville is like the river it was founded on, filled with deep and conflicting currents’

Marshall becomes convinced Buck was murdered and promises Quinn he will unmask the killer in their midst. But who would want to murder an elderly archaeologist? And why?

The book deals with two compelling main themes, that of corporate greed and the fundamental need for a free press. The last 1/4 of the title is very gritty and much more like the Penn Cage trilogy on level of shock value and twists.
American Noir at its finest. 5*

Greg Iles

New release review: Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles – 5*


Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles

The synopsis:

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.

My review:

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.

Authors Links:
Twitter: @GregIles