The Bone Tree : Penn Cage

  • by Greg Iles
  • Narrated by Robert Petkoff
  • Series: Penn Cage
  • 32 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Greg Iles continues the electrifying story begun in his smash New York Times best seller 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 isn'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 more than 200 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?

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, April 2015 - For those of you (myself included) who have been waiting to see what happens to Penn and Caitlin and Tom after the cliffhanger ending from Greg Iles' previous book Natchez Burning, the wait is over. In The Bone Tree we are dropped right back into the Deep South, where past and present collide, and where old hatreds are still prevalent today. When an old woman comes home to die it brings to light secrets of evils long thought buried, with startling ties to some of the most significant atrocities in our nation's history. After finishing The Bone Tree I find myself in a familiar position, not being able to wait to see where Iles and new narrator to the series Robert Petkoff take us next! –John, Audible Editor

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Narrator a problem

After listening to the first four Penn Cage books so brilliantly narrated by Dick Hill, I was beside myself with disappointment and grief that Natchez Burning was NOT narrated by the incomparable Mr. Hill. I protested in every way I could and truly hoped that Robert Petkoff would do a good job with The Bone Tree. But sadly, The residents of the deep south do not have southern accents in his voice and I find that very disturbing. I am going to return this audible version and buy the book in print. Then I can read it and imagine Dick Hill's voice and the mood and rhythm of the south that is totally lacking in Petkoff's narration.
Again, I feel abandoned as an audible consumer of this series. Very sad.
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- Janet

A book that wants to be a movie


I began this novel with an outward groan, not just in contemplation of the 816 pgs. (32 1/2 hrs. audio) facing me, but in reflection of part 1 of this trilogy, Natchez Burning. It was a brick of a book. It contained all the hallmarks of an entertaining read, but was weighed down with detail so burdensome I couldn't get momentum. The 32 hrs. felt like reading real-time. With that premise: Just a few days ago (book-wise), Penn Cage and his fiancée Caitlin Masters, barely escaped with their lives after a gruesome torture session at the hands of a sadistic break-off cell of the KKK. Bone Tree picks up on Day 2 and from the get-go it's clear, TBT loses no time tossing the barely on their feet couple back into the grinder. Wisely, Iles lays down a refresher course for those of us that can't recall the who-what-where & why's to the 35 hr. prequel. It's quick, but thorough.

This is a marathon of action (and listening), literally stuffed to capacity with new secrets that seem to begat more secrets, widening the circle of conspirators, and dangers for Penn, his family and dwindling support team...and I only wished for an editor occasionally this time out. While better than Natchez Burning, the same issues that tormented me through NB still appear in the pages of TBT: glut. But it's Iles' book and if he wants to include the dalliances of sandwich making and downloading Google Maps between dodging snipers and ever lurking ne'er-do-wells, then so be it. (I'd still argue a savvy editor would do some hefty pruning.) Tracking all the people and past events demands attention; the trivialities came close to being distracting. Keeping up with the KKK, the FBI, JFK, RFK, MLK, Castro, Snake, and so on, is mental charting for Mensa members.

Somewhere in the surfeit of detail and double-crosses, the quest switches from solving the murder of Dr. Tom Cage's African-American nurse Viola Turner in Natchez, to digging into questions about conspiracies in the murders of JFK, RFK, MLK. It seems a giant leap away from the South to Castro, but Iles says the trilogy is completed, which I interpret to mean he knows where it's all going. Book 2 avoids the *middle novel* doldrums with new revelations and unexpected twists, but it does continue that tradition of the hanging non-conclusion. Be warned that if you enter here, you're committed to the 3rd book. (If nothing else, you're so going to want to see how & if Snake gets what's coming to him.) Kennedy conspiracies seem overplayed, but I admit I'm curious to see how Iles answers his own questions; how he combines the facts that are his framework with his fictional story.

After the disappointment of NB, I didn't think I would continue with the trilogy. Two things changed my mind (and my son-in-law who's reading this with me):
- First of all, I didn't care for the narrator of NB, a choice that affected my experience of the book. But, I noticed that people who read, rather than listened to, the book, overwhelmingly liked it. Optimistically, I counted on a change of narrators to improve the *Penn Cage* experience. Petkoff is a talented, accomplished actor/narrator. He is expressive, energetic, and noteworthy...better than NB, but again, not how I hear Penn Cage. Why Dick Hill isn't narrating this trilogy...? I wondered if he was still working, and Google says he is. I miss the quality of voice he brought to Penn -- that laid back Southern Comfort that embodied the characters, the history and the place. Hoping for a better suited narrator with TBT turned out to be wishful thinking.
- Secondly, NB and TBT are both novels that border on the farcical, considering the characters, the collusion, complexity, conspiracy, and the nine lives of the all the players...at least I thought so, until I read about the very real journalist Stanley Nelson, the editor of The Concordia Sentinel, and Pulitzer Prize finalist. Nelson is fictionally portrayed by Iles as journalist Henry Sexton, and it's his journalistic work researching the '64 real-life killing of Frank Morris (depicted in NB as musician Albert Norris) by a KKK terrorist cell known as the Silver Dollar Group (depicted in NB as the Double Eagles) that inspired Iles' Natchez Burning. Unless Iles has painted himself into a corner, this can only have one heck of a conclusion.

For me, this book was the better book; the history added depth to the characters and their philosophies, and the story began to have direction and substance beyond just sensational violence. With the roots of the story embedded in history the book became more significant. "Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction..." to quote another Southerner.

While I was hesitant about part 2, I'm anxious for the conclusion. Then there's that issue of the narration.........
*[Natchez Burning is to become a cable series with Sony and Amazon Studios, produced by Tobey Maguire and David Hudgins]
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- Mel

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-21-2015
  • Publisher: HarperAudio