Why: This third installment of the Natchez Trilogy finally made its way to my hands, and I was so excited to dig in! Having loose ends is one of my literary nightmares, and I couldn’t wait to find out how things were going to turn out! This need to know is the basis of my binge reading habits. I’m curious. I get impatient. Must get to the resolution!
“Son, half the truth is a whole lie.”
The Story: *This review does NOT contain spoilers!* Penn Cage is reeling from the effects of his fiancee’s relentless pursuit of the story laid bare by the work of journalist Henry Sexton. Meanwhile, the Cage family as a whole is crumbling beneath the weight of the accusations piled on the family patriarch, Tom. Prepared or not, the Cages – as well as the entire city of Natchez and beyond – must steel themselves to hear testimony that will question all they hold dear. Not even the FBI can protect all those involved in the dark corners of this case, and death hangs over the courtroom as lives are changed forever.
The irrevocable events of our lives happen in seconds, sometimes fractions of seconds.
Opinion: Mysteries are hard to write about without giving away too much. That said, if you enjoy mysteries or maybe more so crime/courtroom novels, read Greg Iles‘ works. Period. I’ve mentioned (twice) my love for his writing style in my reviews of Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree. I’ve noted that the reality of the content provides a cinematic quality, and that identifying with characters’ actions and what is “right” is difficult. That all holds true in Mississippi Blood.
What I want to briefly elaborate on with Mississippi Blood is the quality and authenticity of the emotions Iles incorporates. There is a deep understanding of being human in his works. Much of Mississippi Blood‘s drama comes from internal struggles and internal dialogue. Choosing a “side” was still a mental challenge for me, but I believe that is in large part due to Iles’ ability to accurately portray human nature. Motive is a keyword in the courtroom, and the novels resonates with profound emotional quandaries. It forces me to circle back to “what would I do?” and I still can’t answer.
Who listens to sermons about the virtues of poverty from a beggar, unless that beggar has first earned and given away a fortune?
Recommendation: Similar to my thoughts on the other two in the Natchez Burning trilogy, it is NOT recommended to read these books as stand alone novels or out of order. However, if you invest the time to read these, you won’t be disappointed. The courtroom scenes from this book alone are enough to make the hefty page total worthwhile! Those readers who, like me, immerse themselves to the point of anxiety, may want to steer clear as there were times I felt emotionally drained after reading. Took me some time to step back from the fictional story even after completing the work. In summation though, Mississippi Blood is a great conclusion to the plot twists of the previous two novels. Best for mature readers who want substantial material.
“Mississippi blood is different. It’s got some river in it. Delta soil, turpentine, asbestos, cotton poison. But there’s strength in it, too. Strength that’s been beat but not broke. That’s Mississippi blood.”
Journaling Prompts: (If you haven’t read any of my other reviews, I enjoy putting together a few questions about the book for those that have already read, or choose to read the book after viewing this post!)
- What is the turning point for Penn in this novel? When does he get himself back under control?
- How does FBI Special Agent John Kaiser’s role change from The Bone Tree?
- Define the character of Walt Garrity.
- How does Penn relive some of the sins of his father as he pursues answers to his family’s situation?
- Describe Jenny Cage. Does she take after her mother or father?
- Ghosts are a reoccurring theme in Mississippi Blood. Write down as many scenes with ghosts as you can. Which characters, if any, are still haunted by their own ghosts?
- Who killed Viola Turner?
- Are you satisfied that justice was served as necessary? Who suffered most and who got off easy?
- Imagine you are Greg Iles. What story lines from this trilogy would you carry into your next novel(s) about Penn Cage?
Special thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book in exchange for my honest review!
And FINALLY! The moment you’ve all been waiting for…the winner of our Greg Iles book/tote bag giveaway is…..@hotcocoareads! Thanks to all for following along and participating!