In this sprawling novel, Iles, best known for his contemporary mysteries featuring prosecutor and author Penn Cage, begins his anticipated epic trilogy. Interweaving unsolved mysteries from the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the present, now-Mayor Penn Cage of Natchez, Mississippi is caught in a dilemma: what does he believe? His father? Or the truth? And what if those two aren’t the same?
Dr. Tom Cage is perhaps the most respected man in Natchez. Now 73 and ill, Tom is accused of mercy-killing his former nurse, Viola Turner, who fled decades before to Chicago. Talented, beautiful and African-American, Viola had a son shortly after leaving Natchez under threat from a KKK spin-off group, the Double Eagles. As respectable a pillar of the community as Tom is, Penn must deal with the fact that his father may have had an affair with his nurse and fathered a child with her. Tom is suspiciously unforthcoming and, despite Penn’s most basic urges to save his father, Tom is uncooperative.
But what seems like a personal challenge for Penn spirals into something greater with far-reaching implications. Together with a courageous reporter who has been investigating the Double Eagles for years and his fiancée, journalist Caitlin Masters, Penn finds himself on a path which stretches back decades to uncover the truth, for which he puts those he loves in the crosshairs. How far will Penn go to ensure that justice is served?
For me, Iles has always written page-turners, and Penn Cage is one of my favorite contemporary characters. I looked forward, then, to sinking my teeth into this doorstop, and it did not disappoint. It is smart, well-written, often funny. The 1960s come to life again – as if any of us would want to relive them – but the horrific crimes that were committed by a fairly small number of people are gut-wrenching. This must-read will keep you captivated to the last page.