[REVIEW] The Bone Tree – Greg Iles

Greg Iles
The Bone Tree (Penn Cage, Book 5)
HarperCollins (AU: 23rd March 2015; UK: 9th April 2015; US & CA: 21st April 2015)
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TRIGGER WARNINGS: Hate crimes, racism, rape, racial slurs, child abuse.

If your book is over 400 pages, every bloody page should deserve to be there.

Greg Iles’s The Bone Tree is just over 800 pages (Australian trade paperback edition). And I’m sorry to report that an entire plotline didn’t work for me at all. This is awkward because the interesting bits are awesome, but an entire plotline bored me so much that my attention was near nil.

The bothersome (for me) subplot involves political figures from the 1960s. One of the fictional characters even interviews, and is flirted with by, one of these people in the contemporary. And I just didn’t care. I don’t want real people in fiction.

Lincoln Turner makes an excellent point when he remarks that white people have become the focus. Penn Cage and everyone else are no longer concerned with the death of Viola Turner – Penn’s single-mindedly driven towards keeping his father safe and out of prison. Caitlin Masters is focused on continuing the investigative journalism into the Double Eagles that Henry started.

Viola Turner’s death launched this trilogy. Jimmy Revels, Pooky Wilson, Albert Norris, and countless other black people were abused, tortured, and murdered. And yet CIA agent John Kaiser cares more about the white political figures from the 1960s. *head-desk*

But the story really gets fascinating when Caitlin starts searching the swamp. And the DIY-surgery scenes are riveting.

The Bone Tree really packs a punch when it sticks to fictional characters. But when it involves real people, I lost interest. This novel could’ve been an absolute stunner. It still has flashes of brilliance, but interspersed are too many scenes that fail to engage.


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