First though, let me tell you about our goodies. We meet at a branch library and so we don't eat at every meeting, but all are free to bring treats as the spirit moves them. We have official potluck sharing quarterly. At this meeting, we had a member bring the most beautiful Easter cookies. Mine was so lovely that I had to take a picture to share. The Texas state flower is the bluebonnet and look what was on my cookie! I loved it and decided it was almost too pretty to eat.
OK, back to Greg Iles and Natchez Burning. We talked about the author in general for a while, sharing a few bits of information. He's a native of Natchez, Mississippi. He writes mostly thrillers set in the Deep South and has a particular knack of including the Southern setting in interesting ways. He started out writing standalone novels and then began writing some with Penn Cage as the main protagonist. Is Penn Cage based on Greg Iles? Well, partially, I think. There are similarities. A few years ago, Mr. Iles was involved in a horrific car accident, which left him critically injured. It took him many, many months to recover. He was in the process of writing Natchez Burning at the time and when he began writing again, he realized that the story he wanted to tell was much bigger than he first imagined. This book and the two that will follow, The Bone Tree (available later this month) and Unwritten Laws (2016), tell a broad spectrum story of the civil rights era of the 1960's. It's an epic tale.
Most of our group liked Natchez Burning or loved it. We had a couple who were dismayed by some of the brutal actions of characters in the stories. And make no mistake, there are despicable acts. Some members stated that they had marathon reading sessions trying to finish - it was gripping in the extreme. Almost all are eager to read The Bone Tree. We did discuss more about the book, but one question I posed to the group ended up taking most of our time.
I wasn't sure how well the question would work or if people would be comfortable sharing, but as our group is mostly made up of people who were at least small children in the 1960's, I asked "where were you at that time and what do you remember". We had a very good response. Many remembered the big events of the 1960's - President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King being assassinated - the Freedom Riders - riots in cities - protests on college campuses. Some told of where they lived at the time - states in the North or states in the South and what the atmosphere was like. One member lived in Washington DC and so had vivid memories of the political aspects. I found it all fascinating and I think everyone was interested. And it let us all know more about each other and our backgrounds. It was an informative sharing session.
Natchez Burning has been nominated for Best Novel in the 2015 Thriller Awards and also for Best Novel at the Barry Awards. Also, it's just been announced that it will become a cable series through Sony and Amazon Studios. Will be looking forward to it.
Our book for the May meeting is The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) and I need to get busy reading that one.