• Mississippi Blood

  • A Novel
  • By: Greg Iles
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 28 hrs and 9 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (4,806 ratings)

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Mississippi Blood

By: Greg Iles
Narrated by: Scott Brick
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Publisher's Summary

The endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family, and the enemies bent on destroying them in this revelatory volume in the epic trilogy set in modern-day Natchez, Mississippi - Greg Iles' epic tale of love and honor, hatred and revenge that explores how the sins of the past continue to haunt the present. 

Shattered by grief and dreaming of vengeance, Penn Cage sees his family and his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone, his principles have been irrevocably compromised, and his father, once a paragon of the community that Penn leads as mayor, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. Most terrifying of all, Dr. Cage seems bent on self-destruction. Despite Penn's experience as a prosecutor in major murder trials, his father has frozen him out of the trial preparations - preferring to risk dying in prison to revealing the truth of the crime to his son. 

During 40 years practicing medicine, Tom Cage made himself the most respected and beloved physician in Natchez, Mississippi. But this revered Southern figure has secrets known only to himself and a handful of others. Among them, Tom has a second son, the product of a 1960s affair with his devoted African American nurse, Viola Turner. It is Viola who has been murdered, and her bitter son - Penn's half brother - who sets in motion the murder case against his father. The resulting investigation exhumes dangerous ghosts from Mississippi's violent past. In some way that Penn cannot fathom, Viola Turner was a nexus point between his father and the Double Eagles, a savage splinter cell of the KKK. More troubling still, the long-buried secrets shared by Dr. Cage and the former Klansmen may hold the key to the most devastating assassinations of the 1960s. The surviving Double Eagles will stop at nothing to keep their past crimes buried, and with the help of some of the most influential men in the state, they seek to ensure that Dr. Cage either takes the fall for them or takes his secrets to an early grave. 

Tom Cage's murder trial sets a terrible clock in motion, and unless Penn can pierce the veil of the past and exonerate his father, his family will be destroyed. Unable to trust anyone around him - not even his own mother - Penn joins forces with Serenity Butler, a famous young Black author who has come to Natchez to write about his father's case. Together Penn and Serenity - a former soldier - battle to crack the Double Eagles and discover the secret history of the Cage family and the South itself, a desperate move that risks the only thing they have left to gamble: their lives. 

Mississippi Blood is the enthralling conclusion to a breathtaking trilogy seven years in the making - one that has kept listeners on the edges of their seats. 

©2017 Greg Iles (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"It takes gravitas and a quiet dignity to capture the people caught in a racial maelstrom in this concluding volume of Iles's atmospheric trilogy. Narrator Scott Brick lends both these qualities to this audiobook's central characters... Thanks to Brick's stellar narration, this lengthy production never drags, and listeners will want to visit Penn's Natchez again as a result." ( AudioFile)

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What listeners say about Mississippi Blood

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This book hooked me during the prologue ! WOW'!!!

This is such a good book, I almost think it's the best in this trilogy. I was completely hooked within the first few minutes of starting it with the prologue. Wow! Kaitlin has been murdered and Daniel Kelly is missing in Afghanistan. Tom Cage is going on trial and Penn is falling apart.
The bulk of this book takes place in or around the courtroom. Quentin Avery is the attorney but not putting up much of a defense. Everyone begins thinking that he has either lost his courtroom savvy or has dementia.
The story continues by dragging in everyone from past books to come to terms with any evils they may have perpetrated (not just this trilogy, but from prior books as well). Throw the Double Eagles in and a threat on the Cage family lives and you've got a real nail biter going on.
I can't say more without spoiling the book or the outcome for anyone, suffice to say it is a riveting story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
I can't say enough about this book other than to HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you get it.
If you found this review helpful please indicate so.
Thank You.

71 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Disappointing End to a Long Awaited Conclusion

*POSSIBLE SPOILERS*
I was so incredibly excited when I saw this book in the "Featured Pre-Orders" section, having loved Natchez Burning and the Bone Tree I could not wait for it's release. To begin, I find most people love or hate Scott Brick--I love him but did find his performance in this book to be somewhat over dramatic. That being said, it wasn't intolerable to me.
Moving on, I have to admit I was really hoping that Caitlin's death was some sort of play by the FBI to protect her as a federal witness. While her death was fitting considering her penchant towards putting herself in dangerous situations I felt as though having Penn Cage lose two women who played such a prominent role in his life was somewhat setting him up for martyrdom. Additionally, I assume making Caitlin pregnant at the time of her death was to add to Penn's grief. Yet, his ability to move so swiftly into another sexual relationship was intensely disappointing for me. He states, at one point to his sister, "I haven't been with anyone since Caitlin's death"...but Caitlin had only been dead for 3 months! Had Isles spent any time expressing some inner conflict held by Cage in entering this relationship, I may have found it more respectable. As it was, I found this aspect of the novel to do an exceptional disservice to Caitlin's memory as well as the longstanding relationship they had held.
Next, I found the courtroom scenes unrealistic, specifically the cross examination of Dr. Cage. While it was certainly established that Avery's performance at the beginning of the trial seemed incompetent, at the time of the cross examination that had supposedly changed. And yet the DA spent more time going off on tangents that were so obviously objectionable it was ridiculous. While there was one sustained objection, it continued to play out that way through the course of the cross examination right up to the end. Additionally, Penn persistently commented on how Johnson had the jury's rapt attention, giving the "best closing argument I have ever heard". However, by the end Penn felt more than confident his father would be acquitted based on the fact that Dr. Cage stated he had the lethal drug responsible for Viola's death in his bag and didn't use it. At this information the DA was thrown into a tizzy, knocked off his game, not previously having that information. This made absolutely no sense to me. Wouldn't Dr. Cage's confession he had the drug point more to his guilt than innocence? And finally, why didn't the DA call Penn to the stand? Whether he had any revealing information or not, given their longstanding contentious relationship this would seem like an obvious move.
I gave this novel 4 stars because I absolutely love Greg Isles and the previous two books in this series were among the best I've ever read. But I have to admit the final installment felt somewhat contrived and not very well thought out. I don't believe this is the end of the Penn Cage series and will continue to read whatever Isles puts out. However, I do hope more thought goes into creating situations that are more believable in the future.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good ending to the trilogy

I am a bit surprised by some of the reviews of this book. I am a fan of Iles and Brick so maybe I am biased.
I did not find Brick's narration to be tedious or overly dramatic - I think it was on-target.
As for the storyline, this is the conclusion of a fantastic melodrama - its so far from reality you cant judge it to be believable. Pieces of the story can be somewhat believable but taken in its entirety it's crazy FICTION! Some readers were mad about Penn's sexual relationship so soon after the death of his fiance, it can be explained as grief or anger over her death or not -maybe the author just wanted to throw in another crazy relationship. The same goes for the courtroom scenes and the relationship with his 1/2 brother Lincoln. Its all a retreat into fantasy. I enjoyed it, then again, I was looking to escape and got my money's worth!

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

28 Hours With Scott Brick

28 Hours With Scott Brick and his overly dramatic, fake emotional delivery; this is a new level of hell. I've been waiting for this conclusion to the trilogy with great anticipation. I will listen, because I have no other option other than asking for a refund of my credit and buying the actual book; I have to know how the story ends. I hope the story is good enough to overcome the narration. I will update this when I'm finished.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Disapppointing

Any additional comments?

Penn Cage's constant doubts and fears, which almost always turn out to be incorrect, quickly become extremely tedious. I enjoyed the earlier books in this series but this latest entry is very weak.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A trilogy within a series

There are 6 novels in the Penn Cage series the last three of which are the Natchez Burning trilogy consisting of Natchez Burning, The Bone Tree, and this novel Mississippi Blood. The trilogy novels must be read in order (which I did although I reviewed Natchez Burning almost three years after listening to it). Author Greg Iles started writing the 3 books while recovering from a near fatal automobile accident in 2011. The combined pages of the trilogy in hardcover is more than 2300 and the total recorded time in audio is 96 hours.

There is a lot to like about Mississippi Blood in terms of the quality of the story, the surprise twists, and the suspense; this also applies to Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree. The main characters are Natchez mayor (and non-practicing lawyer and novelist) Penn Cage, his 11 year old daughter Annie, his dad Dr. Tom Cage, Tom Cage's black nurse and lover from 1968 Viola Turner, Lincoln Turner (the mixed race child of Tom Cage and Viola Turner that Tom Cage recently learned about), Tom Cage's black lawyer Quentin Avery, Tom Cage's friend from his Army days and retired Texas Ranger Walt, and newspaper publisher Kaitlin Masters (it still irritates me that the author killed Kaitlin off at the end of The Bone Tree). One of my issues with this trilogy is the huge number of characters other than the primary ones, but I suppose that is appropriate for a trilogy as long as this one. Among the characters are a murderous group that broke off from the KKK because the KKK was not violent enough. The other characters that can be considered antagonists include the sheriff and the prosecutor. Ultimately the story of the trilogy is about past (and to a lesser degree current) racism in Mississippi and its continuing impact on people of Black, mixed and white races. The books directly address the past taboo of mixing of the races.

Mississippi Blood is mostly about the trial of 73 year old Dr. Tom Cage for the murder of Viola Turner, his nurse until 1968 and the mother of their child Lincoln Turner (now in his mid 40's). If he did it there is a question about whether it was murder of physician assisted suicide. For those who like legal thrillers with lots of courtroom action Mississippi Blood provides a huge amount.

Penn Cage has been a strong but tragedy driven protagonist from the first of six books in the series. In Mississippi Blood he is often paralyzed into inaction by uncertainty and at times is a wuss of a protagonist. Indeed, although this is the Penn Cage series Dr. Tom Cage is more the protagonist in Mississippi Blood.

There is a major error in this novel when Lincoln Turner plays a tape of the murder to Penn Cage demanding $1 million for it and then there is no further discussion of the tape. Indeed, the ending chapters of the novel when Lincoln and Penn went after the bad guys would have been unnecessary if the tape had existed.

The three novels in this trilogy had 3 different narrators with Scott Brick providing great narration in the final novel.

As a son of the rural south in the days of Jim Crow I believe this novel and the other two are realistic and important. The novels are too long and there are notable inconsistencies, but the task Greg Isle's took on in writing them is huge and he does write the novels filled with action, suspense and realism while telling a compelling story. As such I believe Mississippi does earn a 5 star rating.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The Third, But in First Place


The conclusion to a Penn Cage trilogy that ties up an extraordinarily complex *story* that began decades ago. It is a family saga, a piece of the old South's history, and an exposé on hatred and racism -- the degree to which evil and hatred can fuel and destroy a human being, even a whole town. Gritty, gutsy, and hard reading, but riveting. I've been a reader of Iles' novels for a long time and have the vision of better days in Natchez...a place where I've daydreamed about visiting, sitting on a porch with a sweet tea and absorbing the atmosphere of the genteel old south... then ducking a bullet. Iles' South always brings me back to his novels. As does Burke's south and other writers in this genre.

Mississippi Blood is not a starting point if you're interested in Iles southern saga. Natchez Burning is the beginning and I'll warn readers that it was difficult for me to get through, but the series improves significantly with each volume. The back history that leads up to MB is absolutely worth the commitment, and important reading to understanding the level of evil that was prevalent.

Regardless of a very good story that I highly recommend, I have to mention that a recurring thought as I listened to this book was *the editor.* It became obsessive.
Iles' editor could have cut a little, could have kept track of some of those sub-plots and characters. Contrariwise, I always am a little sad when I've finished inhabiting Iles' Mississippi -- gators, deviants, redundancy, words and all. And, I've noticed a similar style (verbosity) with his peers (and bandmates: Stephen King, Scott Turow, Mitch Albom, Amy Tan, Matt Groening, Dave Barry, Roy Blount Jr., James McBride, Ridley Pearson, Greg Iles, Sam Barry, and Roger McGuinn). I never tired of listening, which is something to say in the context of 27 hours.

Much of Mississippi Blood takes place in the courtroom. Most plots seem satisfactorily tied up, though emotionally you want more for these characters you've been involved with for the past few years and 2300 plus pages, 96 audio hours. And though at times it's difficult to keep track of this community of characters and their antics, I'm pretty sure there were loose ends that drifted off in an overabundance of pages. (*editor*) There remains some questions possibly hinting at a new direction for Penn Cage.

The author writes an entertaining Southern crime thriller, some of the best as far as layered storytelling, rich in history and characters. He could be accused of excessively requiring suspension of logic and reality. You know this if you've sat in on legal proceedings and wondered what courtroom really proceeds in such a manner. But reality is overrated, especially in Fiction.

This is the first time I've had an issue with Iles separate from my own predilections of style...I noticed a definite new vibe, subtle throughout the trilogy, undeniably obvious once the author killed off Kaitlin at the end of the second book. The death of Cage's long-time fiancé marked a shift in this lawyer's libido, as written by Iles. Respectable lawyer Cage is looking lustfully at the babysitter (and she's looking back). Bad form always. It felt awkward and out of character, as did his sudden sport sex. I wasn't quite convinced or appreciative of this new romantic direction. It was lacking Cage's otherwise impeccable style. (But it is kind of funny hearing the almost stiff voice of Brick describe the in flagrante delicto encounter.) Is the author feeling his age rather than the character feeling his?

Iles writes about Justice and Equality, shining a spotlight on the racial disgraces of our past and an undeniable and violent era, but an important and very real subject. Prepare for plenty of violence, rape, and defilement that is almost painful to read, almost gratuitous. Iles, through his Penn Cage, is conscience and it seems expanded in this novel. I'm still thinking about that fiery epilogue. Timely and political, but did it serve the story or the current pulse? Possibly both.

*Just for fun: I mentioned his bandmates. Greg Iles is an interesting character himself, and a prolific writer with a pack of likewise gifted and prolific friends that occasionally put down their pens and pick up a musical instrument. The Rock Bottom Remainders: Stephen King, Scott Turow, Mitch Albom, Amy Tan, Matt Groening, Dave Barry, Roy Blount Jr., James McBride, Ridley Pearson, Greg Iles, Sam Barry, and Roger McGuinn. Not a bad line-up, with the claim: "The Greatest Rock Band Ever (of Authors)." After watching a video clip and reading the comments, the repartee might be better than their music.

“We play music as well as Metallica writes novels.”-Dave Barry
“Rock Bottom Remainders? Who the hell are they?” -Kirk Hammett, Metallica
“There’s an audience out there, and the key is to kick it in the ass.” -Stephen King
“Roy actually coined the term for our genre of music; ‘hard-listening music.’” -Dave Barry

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Pathetic

Someday Amazon will fix the "they gave it to me for free so of course I rated it five stars" problem...

This is the poster boy for that being needed.

This book is AWFUL!

WAY TOO LONG!!!!

WAY TOO UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

WAY TOO MELODRAMATIC!!!

Even the great Scott Brick should be embarrassed by producing over 25 hours of crap.
Penn Cage comes off as a drama queen and there are so many plot twists that are both absurd and criminal.

The gratuitous interracial sex crap was sophomoric at best.

Isles has done better in the past - find it hard to believe he put his name on this overlong and overwrought soap opera.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding!!

Wow! What a book! Scott Brick is one of THE best audio readers I've ever listened to! This whole audio book was absolutely terrific!

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Melodramatic End of Series

Would you try another book from Greg Iles and/or Scott Brick?

I will avoid any more books read by Scott Brick. Mr. Brick reads like the overcompensated actor in the local community theater. I had just finished another series read by him, and was so glad to be finished with his voice. This book was the end of a series, of which I had read all the others. Imagine my horror when I had downloaded this book and once again heard Brick's voice! He has no voice for Mississippi, particularly the lead character.

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator needed at least a Southern accent. Seriously, it can't be that difficult.

Any additional comments?

I had enjoyed all the other books in this series, but was always troubled by the main character's father. He was written as a saint, but unbelievably so. This book was the culmination in this too good to be true doctor's story who took unrealistic liberties as a physician, both big and small. I wonder just how many times my eyes rolled as I listened to his story. The book became melodramatic and boring at times, especially the long drawn out courtroom saga. By the end, I no longer cared about any of the characters and happily say good-bye to the town of Nachez.

5 people found this helpful