Natchez Burning: A Novel (Penn Cage)
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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles comes the first novel in his Natchez Burning trilogy—which also includes The Bone Tree and the upcoming Mississippi Blood—an epic trilogy that interweaves crimes, lies, and secrets past and present in a mesmerizing thriller featuring Southern lawyer and former prosecutor Penn Cage.
Raised in the southern splendor of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned all he knows of duty from his father, Dr. Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor has been accused of murdering the African American nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the 1960s. Once a crusading prosecutor, Penn is determined to save his father, but Tom, stubbornly invoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses even to speak in his own defense.
Penn's quest for the truth sends him deep into his father's past, where a sexually charged secret lies. More chilling, this long-buried sin is only one thread in a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the vicious Double Eagles, an offshoot of the KKK controlled by some of the most powerful men in the state. Aided by a dedicated reporter privy to Natchez's oldest secrets and by his fiancée, Caitlin Masters, Penn uncovers a trail of corruption and brutality that places his family squarely in the Double Eagles' crosshairs.
With every step costing blood and faith, Penn is forced to confront the most wrenching dilemma of his life: Does a man of honor choose his father or the truth?
driving almost in a trance. A few hours ago, Caitlin said something that’s resonated ever since: “There’s a secret history here …” That phrase always makes me think of Donna Tartt, the Mississippi-born writer, though that title originated with Procopius and his exposé of the crimes of the emperor Justinian. Every small town has its historia arcana, and in Natchez, our secret historian is a woman whom few people have seen in the past ten years. A fabled recluse, she lives with her three servants
proud mother. “Well, don’t sound like that. You’re moving up to the big time.” Henry grinned. “I don’t know about that. I feel pretty guilty about it, actually.” “Don’t, hon. It’s the story that matters. Getting it out to the most people. Right?” “Right.” “I’m going to leave in a couple of minutes. I’ve got to get home and make supper for Sam. You be sure and call for a deputy before you go. It’s pitch-black out there now, and the last cruiser passed about five minutes ago.” Henry’s smile
know it’s not.” “Henry was going to come to work for me. You keeping this stuff from me is just—insulting.” I toss the autopsy report onto the sofa. “The preliminary report pegs Viola’s cause of death as adrenaline overdose, but all that really does is muddy the water. And you obviously can’t report it.” She stares at me for several awkward seconds. Then she nods once. “Thank you.” “Why do you think Henry was going to say yes to working for you?” “I just know it. You’ll see.” She shakes her
protect him.” “No, I won’t. But this is Royal’s only way out, other than running. And if he runs, you can rip him to shreds. But for God’s sake—for Dad’s sake—let Royal pull these strings and remove the immediate threat.” “You can’t trust a man like Royal, Penn. Some way or other, he’s going to screw you. You and Tom. Remember what he did to his wife? To his own daughter?” Penn let her words hang in the air. Then he said, “You know something? You’re right. My father’s life means more to me
“Just wait. Let’s jump ahead five years. On November first, 1969, Leland Robb climbed into the airplane you saw in that photo to travel to Arkansas for a fishing trip. At least that was the story put out afterward. With him were a charter pilot and two young ladies of what used to be called easy moral disposition.” “Hookers?” “No. Sorority girls who liked to party. Sisters from Tennessee. Twenty-one and twenty-seven. Dr. Robb was forty-two and married. He could fly, but he liked to drink on his