Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Blog Tour & Review: The Bone Tree by Greg Iles (audio)

Title: The Bone Tree   
Author: Greg Iles   
Series: Penn Cage, #5   
Narrator: Robert Petkoff  
Published: April 2015, Harper Audio /  William & Morrow Company 
Length:  32 hours 25 minutes / 816 pages 
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Publisher 

Greg Iles continues the electrifying story begun in his smash New York Times bestseller Natchez Burning in this highly anticipated second installment of an epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice, featuring Southern lawyer Penn Cage.

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?

My thoughts: This is the fifth book in Greg Iles' Penn Cage series, but the second in his new trilogy. I've only started with the recent trilogy, having just read Natchez Burning (review coming soon) and now The Bone Tree and all I can say is WOW...these books are jammed packed with action. This picks up right were Natchez Burning left off, so I'm really glad I decided to read that one first, otherwise I think I might have been a bit lost.

It's hard to write this review without giving away any major spoilers, so I apologize in advance if this review is vague. There are so many layers to this book and each one in and of itself is quite fascinating and compelling. It's also very easy to lose track of who's who - since I was listening to the audio of the book, I found myself referring to the print version just to be sure I had the characters straight. I'm not one for making notes on characters, but in this case, it might have been helpful just to keep track of everyone. 

Being that I had literally just finished Natchez Burning a few days before starting this book, I had no problems remembering what had occurred prior to the start of The Bone Tree, but for those who read the previous book when it first came out last year, the prologues gives a nice summary refresher. But, if you're anything like me, you're going to want to read the book yourself. The summary won't do it for you.

What I love about this book is that all the characters are well-developed. Whether you like them or not, and believe me, there are quite a few despicable characters in this book, they are so well-drawn, it's almost as if they are real people. What becomes evident from this book is that we never really know someone. People keep secrets for a number of reasons - fear of retaliation and shame being just two. There are a lot of secrets being kept in this book - Tom is keeping secrets from Penn, Caitlin is keeping something from Penn, Penn is keeping something from the FBI, etc. Some of the secrets are revealed in this installment and some we have to wait until the next book to find out. Some of these secrets are justified while others are tactics used as bargaining chips. 

I was fascinated with the historical aspects of this novel. I haven't read that much about the infamous KKK. I admit that I did look up The Silver Dollar Group, which Greg Iles says he based this latest trilogy on. They were an off-shoot of the KKK, carried silver dollars of their birth year, and were thought to be involved in a series of unsolved murders from the Civil Rights era in Louisiana and Mississippi. Taking this idea and weaving it his storyline made for exciting reading, in my opinion. Especially when brought into question whether this group played a role in JFK's assassination, among others. While I'm no conspiracy theorist, I'm not sure we know what really happened that fateful day...

There is so much going on in this book - and it only takes place over the course of four days...that's how jam-packed full of action it is. Be prepared to be consumed with this story once you start reading it - I know I was and now I can't wait for the final installment, due out sometime next year. My only issue now is whether I read the earlier books in this series now or wait until I read that final book...decisions, decisions.

Audio Thoughts: I decided to listen to this because of time constraints, but I was a bit weary of the length...32 hours is a long time to keep my attention. I have to say I was mesmerized...not so much because of the narrator, but because of the story. That is what really kept me going. The narrator, Robert Petkoff was ok. I had never listened to him before so I didn't know what to expect with him, but I felt he fell a little short with some of the voices, particularly the female ones - they all sounded the same to me. At least some of the male voices sounded unique, but not all of them. Plus, I didn't really find there was much of a Southern accent - only one or two of the characters had one, which I find a bit suspect. Oh well...still glad I listened, as it allowed me to finish the book faster, but wish it was a better narrator.

Books in this series:
     1.  The Quiet Game
     2.  Turning Angel
     3.  The Devil's Punchbowl
     3.5  The Death Factory
     4.  Natchez Burning
     5.  The Bone Tree
     6.  Unwritten Laws - Due out 2016

About the author: Greg Iles spent most of his youth in Natchez, Mississippi, and studied the American novel under acclaimed southern writer Willie Morris at the University of Mississippi. His first novel, Spandau Phoenix, was the first of thirteen New York Times bestsellers, and his new trilogy continues the story of Penn Cage, protagonist of The Quiet Game, Turning Angel, and #1 New York Times bestseller The Devil’s Punchbowl. Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries. He is a member of the lit-rock group “The Rock Bottom Remainders” and lives in Natchez with his two teenaged children.

Authors Links: 
Website |  Twitter 

To see who else is participating in Greg Iles's The Bone Tree's tour, click here.



  1. I have both Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree on my shelf to read, but the size is just so intimidating that I can always find something else to grab instead. I really need to read them though since I've read nothing but great reviews so far.

  2. Your comment about being amazed that the book takes place over such a short amount of time - days - was mentioned recently at my book group meeting. We discussed Natchez Burning in April and then some talked about reading The Bone Tree at our May meeting. I've got The Bone Tree, but haven't read it yet. Kind of waiting a bit so the last book in the trilogy won't be quite as far away. One thing - I recommend the other Penn Cage books. If you get time. They are all good. :-)

  3. Looking forward to this book. I should have started it last weekend while it was rainy since I know I won't want to put it down once I start reading. Great review.

  4. I'm never sure if I should do audio or print - sounds like this one would be better read than listened to. Definitely want to get started on this trilogy.

  5. I really love long audiobooks that I can lose myself in - 30+ hours are my favorite kind!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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