TTP Review of THE BONE TREE by Greg Iles

The Bone Tree is the fifth Greg Iles novel featuring fiction author and politician Penn Cage, and the most explosive so far. If you are at all familiar with Iles’ work, you know that’s really saying something.

Bone Tree_Iles  The Bone Tree is the second novel in a trilogy that began with Natchez Burning and will culminate with the 2017 release of Mississippi Blood.   As much as I’m looking forward to that final volume, I honestly can’t imagine how Iles can improve upon what he’s already done. I don’t know what the statute of limitations is on spoilers but I’m going to drop a couple right here.  At the end of Natchez Burning, a local newspaper reporter dies in spectacular fashion taking one of the bad guys with him, and Penn and his fiancée barely escape with their own lives. The Bone Tree picks up right where that left off, and for the next 880 pages, the level of tension only increases. Penn’s whole world crashes down around him. He should be busy preparing for his wedding. Instead, his father is on the run in connection with two different murders, his betrothed, an incredibly driven journalist, continues to peel layers off a decades old story with deadly implications, and a network of ruthless and powerful people, including some high ranking law enforcement officials, prove they will go to any lengths to protect their interests and keep their secrets buried. If you’re looking for a rainbow that ends at a pot of gold, this is not the book for you. It’s dark, ugly, incredibly compelling and, in my opinion, Greg Iles’ strongest work to date.


With some book series, you could start with volume two, three, or seven and really not have missed a heck of a lot. I wouldn’t recommend that in this case. The trilogy that begins with Natchez Burning reads like a single continuous storyline. The second novel picks up right where the first left off, and the characters barely have time to take a breath before they are thrown back into the fire. I’m speaking literally and figuratively, as readers of book #1 may have already surmised. Iles probably broke things up where he did because of writer’s cramp and because he knew a single volume totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,400 pages would get a tad weighty and cumbersome. He was giving his readers a break too. The novels are explosive to say the least. Our collective blood pressures might not be able to handle it if all that action was packed into one.

In fairness to the author, Iles does do a masterful job opening The Bone Tree with a summary of the preceding events.  You could, if you were pressed for time or something, begin with The Bone Tree and it wouldn’t take you too long to get up to speed. However, as I’ve already suggested, I really wouldn’t advise it. The books are brilliant. Do yourself a favor and read them all. I can’t wait for the release of Mississippi Blood to find out what happens to….   Never mind. That would be too much of a spoiler.


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