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The Bone Tree    by Greg Iles order for
Bone Tree
by Greg Iles
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

If you have read Natchez Burning by Greg Iles, I'm sure you are champing at the bit to read the next in this trilogy, The Bone Tree. Stephen King states that this second work is 'Extraordinarily entertaining and fiendishly suspenseful', which should certainly put it next on your to-read pile.

In the first episode, Penn Cage, mayor of Natchez, was sure his physician father Tom was innocent of his African-American nurse Viola Turner's murder. This novel depicted the 1960s when race relations were volatile at best. The KKK at that time had a branch known as the Double Eagles. Mississippi was a hotbed of turmoil and both Tom and Penn were deeply committed to doing what was right. Or, at least, what they thought was right.

Moving on. We now pick up The Bone Tree. Evil seems to be soaked into the very soil of Mississippi. We become embroiled in the assassinations of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. The Cages question whether the shot came from the grassy slope and who pulled the trigger. Was it really someone more interested in destroying men who might put a stop to their illegal ways of amassing fortunes?

The history of the times brings back so many memories, but makes me wonder if I remember the same things as author Greg Iles does. His perspective makes a lot more sense than what I was asked or told to believe. To say that The Bone Tree is exciting, tense, full of suspense, and with enough action to satisfy any reader does not do the book justice. It seems as though action is on every single page.

If you are anywhere near my age, you will remember these uneasy times with relief that they have passed. If younger, you will recall classes teaching versions of these trying times - with the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy killings, the McCarthy witch hunts, the KKK rising as though from the very ground on which Mississippi stands to commit terrible atrocities to press their beliefs on others.

The Bone Tree explodes with characters who firmly believe that when they see a wrong, they must commit to righting that wrong. Often at peril of their own lives. On the other side of the coin, there are those who see no reason why they shouldn't have whatever they want. No matter the price to others. The author has used a many colored palette to depict a broad spectrum of the population - from those living in Mississippi to serving their country in Washington, D.C..

Iles takes us from the courtroom to the very swamps where the Bone Tree reveals its history. What a good book.

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