‘Mississippi Blood,’ by Greg Iles
I’ve had a love affair with Greg Iles’ work for years: I love his words, his nuanced ideas and the tone that runs through so many of his books. I’ve read them sporadically, not obsessively, as I do with some authors; but when I find one I’ve somehow missed, I’m truly happy and excited. Some may find Iles’ books daunting, given their breadth, but the author’s writing is so flawlessly smooth the pages seem to turn themselves.
“Mississippi Blood” is the third in a trilogy (the first is “Natchez Burning” and the second is “The Bone Tree”), though each book can stand alone. Central to the plot of the final book are Penn Cage, a lawyer and newly elected mayor of Natchez, Mississippi, and Tom Cage, his father, the town doctor and unofficial standard-bearer of morality in this small community. How the ethics standard-bearer has come to be accused of the murder of his long-time nurse is the conflict at the center of this story.
Viola and Tom Cage’s love parallel each other until she disappears with no explanation. Viola is brutalized by Ku Klux Klan members and is also pregnant with Tom’s child, both of which are unbeknownst to him.
Within this book are ghosts of the KKK, which are still chilling. This book’s descriptions of pure evil are all-too-evident in the hearts and minds of the characters. Also evinced is the highly developed sense of survival some characters adopt (one of the Klan members is aptly named Snake).
Many plots intertwine in this readable tome. I didn’t want the book to end; to the last page, I was on tenterhooks.
This is a terrific read, as are the other two books in the “Natchez Burning” series. “Mississippi Blood” is suspenseful, filled with plots that entwine yet don’t entangle. As often as I have recommended Greg Iles’ books, I have not heard a word of complaint about my suggestions.
This book is available at Bud Werner Memorial Library and Off the Beaten Path.
Katie Davidson is a bookseller at Off the Beaten Path.