Narrator: David Ledoux
Series: Penn Cage #4, Natchez Burning #1
Published by Harper Audio on April 29, 2014
Length: 35 hrs 53 mins
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Growing up in the rural Southern hamlet of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned everything he knows about honor and duty from his father, Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor and pillar of the community is accused of murdering Violet Turner, the beautiful nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the early 1960s. A fighter who has always stood for justice, Penn is determined to save his father, even though Tom, stubbornly evoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses to speak up in his own defense.
The quest for answers sends Penn deep into the past—into the heart of a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the Double Eagles, a vicious KKK crew headed by one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the state. With the aid of a local friend and reporter privy to some of Natchez's oldest and deadliest secrets, Penn follows a bloody trail that stretches back forty years, to one undeniable fact: no one—black or white, young or old, brave or not—is ever truly safe.
With everything on the line, including his own life, Penn must decide how far he will go to protect those he loves . . . and see justice done, once and for all.
I really expected to like Natchez Burning. I’ve read Iles’ books before and found the gripping and thought-provoking. This one just didn’t work for me. The plot itself is good, I liked, or hated, the characters, and the setting was well-done. I enjoyed seeing the story from different characters points of view and it was easy to follow whose side of the story we were hearing. I did listen to the whole 35+ hours, but in the end I wished I hadn’t bothered.
First, there is a lot of repetition. Cut some of it out and it would be a tighter, more enjoyable book. I hate it when authors seem to think I’m going to forget things two chapters after they told me the first time.
Second, it was overwrought. I don’t know whether to blame the writing or the reader, but it was all overdone, just too much. Maybe the goal was to maintain tension and be descriptive, but it came off as melodramatic and distracting from the story itself.
And then there was the ending. After 35 hours, there was none. I mean it ended, but several of the major plotlines were just left mid-stream – after 35 hours! I know it’s the first in a trilogy, but give me some kind of resolution, not a to be continued. I always feel tricked by endings like that. I wanted a pay-off after devoting that much time to the story, and there just wasn’t one.
There were some good points, especially the discussion about racism, both past and present, and about how the media can effect what people know/believe/think. There just weren’t enough to make up for the negatives for me.
I wish I had spent my time listening to something else.