Review: The Bone Tree

Title: The Bone Tree (Penn Cage #5) 22693231

Author: Greg Iles

Rating: ★★★★

Provided Synopsis: Former prosecutor Penn Cage and his fiancee, reporter and publisher Caitlin Masters, have barely escaped with their lives after being attacked by wealthy businessman Brody Royal and his Double Eagles, a KKK sect with ties to some of Mississippi’s most powerful men. But the real danger has only begun as FBI Special Agent John Kaiser warns Penn that Brody wasn’t the true leader of the Double Eagles. The puppeteer who actually controls the terrorist group is a man far more fearsome: the chief of the state police’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, Forrest Knox.

The only way Penn can save his father, Dr. Tom Cage–who is fleeing a murder charge as well as corrupt cops bent on killing him–is either to make a devil’s bargain with Knox or destroy him. While Penn desperately pursues both options, Caitlin uncovers the real story behind a series of unsolved civil rights murders that may hold the key to the Double Eagles’ downfall. The trail leads her deep into the past, into the black backwaters of the Mississippi River, to a secret killing ground used by slave owners and the Klan for over two hundred years . . . a place of terrifying evil known only as “the bone tree.”

The Bone Tree is an explosive, action-packed thriller full of twisting intrigue and deadly secrets, a tale that explores the conflicts and casualties that result when the darkest truths of American history come to light. It puts us inside the skin of a noble man who has always fought for justice–now finally pushed beyond his limits.

Just how far will Penn Cage, the hero we thought we knew, go to protect those he loves?

Review: The journey into the past to discover the truth continues.

In the second novel of the trilogy, Penn Cage must navigate the waters of chaos that surround him. His soon-to-be wife, Caitlin, is on a mission to break the biggest civil rights story in history, no matter the cost. His father is still on the run and holds the secrets he knows close to him. Special Agent John Kaiser is determined to uncover the answer to the decades-ago assassination of President Kennedy in relation to those in Louisiana and Mississippi. And the Know family looms large, always on the defensive and steps ahead of those who seek to bring their crimes to light in the pursuit of justice.

While I think this book, especially the last 20% of it, does an incredible job of setting the stakes and positions of characters on the metaphorical chessboard as we head into the finale, I also think it is noteworthy to include that I did not enjoy The Bone Tree as much as I did Natchez Burning. For this reason, I’d like to bring up the differences in the approach to storytelling, for Natchez Burning often returned to the past to tell the stories of Tom Cage, Viola Turner, Jimmy Revels, Frank Knox, etc. When Natchez did that it became a book impossible to put down, for the horrors of racial hatred and violence were incredibly riveting in accordance of how they stood on their own and in connection to the crimes being committed in Penn’s present.

The Bone Tree did not reflect back on these people, and because of that I often felt as if they were forgotten. The death of Viola Turner is what sets all of the events of this trilogy into motion, but I heard nothing new in relation to her past and the truth of what happened the night she died. Instead, the focus of crimes in this installment was based upon historical figures and the conspiracy theories. Some might enjoy this, but I often found my eyes glazing over; sometimes I had the feeling the Kennedy storyline is more story than is needed, but I hope all of this is proven to be worthwhile in the finale.

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