Connie's Book Picks for May
Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
Penn Cage, former prosecutor and now mayor of Natchez, Mississippi is drawn into 40-year-old secrets when his beloved physician father is accused of murder. As Penn fights to clear him, his father refuses to answer questions or defend himself, leaving Penn to wonder how well he really knows his father.
Natchez Burning by Greg Iles is daunting in story, scope and size. Although it’s the first in a trilogy, I didn’t feel like I was left dangling at the end of the book. I can’t help thinking that it must really be hard for an author to face up to the violent and racist past of his hometown. Like so many southern cities, the charm, tradition and antebellum culture have been preserved while the fight for civil rights has continued for decades.
A complicated father-son relationship, a suspenseful mystery, strong characters and a riveting historical context add up to a story I couldn’t put down.
Long Man by Amy Greene
Amy Greene has lived all her life in East Tennessee Smoky Mountains and says that “there is an intimacy with the landscape that comes from living here.” She captures the language, expressions, aching beauty and hardscrabble life of families that have lived on the mountaintop for generations.
I’ve always felt that character is what I look for in novels but I think setting is just as important for me. A dramatic setting that informs the unique Appalachian culture and the people who want to live and die there can tell a multitude of stories.
The prospect of change, even electricity which will bring jobs, is threatening to the farms and heritage of the tight-knit community. In Greene’s second book, Long Man, she draws from real events that happened in the summer of 1936, when a government-built dam is going to flood an Appalachian town and a girl disappears.