Greg Iles says he feels like a great weight has been lifted from his shoulders.
“Mississippi Blood,” the final book in his ambitious “Natchez Burning” trilogy, is now out.
“And not a moment too soon,” the bestselling author says. “When I began this trilogy, I still had both legs and I felt young. Eight years later, I’ve written a 2,000-page epic and I feel the beginnings of being old. A work like this takes a lot out of you.”
After that comment, some backstory is in order.
In 2011, Iles was badly injured in an automobile accident.
His doctors initially didn’t believe he would survive. He spent eight days in a medically induced coma and he lost his right leg below the knee.
Afterward, when Iles took stock of what he had gone through, he decided to go even deeper with a story about family, race, prejudice and secrets — a story that began with “Natchez Burning.” Iles hadn’t envisioned the book being a stand-alone thriller, but he wasn’t sure what to do next.
“I wanted to bring to life the most troubling realities of the 1960s in the South as they really happened, in all their complexity, and not tainted or simplified by the subjective distortions of one faction or another,” Iles says.
Through the character of Penn Cage, a mayor and former prosecutor searching for truth about a woman’s murder and about his father’s possible guilt, Iles was able to address these and other issues.
More than 1.1 million copies of “Natchez Burning” (2014) and “The Bone Tree” (the 2015 follow-up) are in print. So it stands to reason that “Mississippi Blood,” which is highlighted by an explosive courtroom trial, will make some noise as well.
Sony Pictures TV is developing a cable series based on the books, with producers Tobey Maguire and David Hudgins (a Dallas native) and director John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side”) attached.
In the meantime, Iles is working on his next novel — “a much shorter one!”
David Martindale, Special to the Star-Telegram
- By Greg Iles
- William Morrow, $28.99