Excerpt from Natchez Burning by Greg Iles, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Natchez Burning

A Penn Cage Novel

by Greg Iles

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles X
Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2014, 800 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2015, 816 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

CHAPTER 1



ALBERT NORRIS SANG a few bars of Howlin' Wolf's "Natchez Burnin' " to cover the sounds of the couple making love in the back of his shop. The front door was locked. It was after seven, the streets deserted. But today had been a bad day. Albert had tried to cancel the rendezvous by switching on the light in the side room where he taught piano during the week—he'd even sent a boy to warn the man to stay away from the shop—but the two lovers had ignored his warnings and come anyway. He'd set up their rendezvous a week ago, by sending out a coded message during his gospel radio show, which was his usual method. But lovers who saw each other only twice a month—if they were lucky— weren't going to be deterred by a warning light in a window, not even if their lives were at risk.

The white woman had arrived first, rapping lightly at the alley door. Albert had tried to run her off— whites were supposed to use the front—but she'd refused to budge. Terrified that a passerby might see her, Albert had let her in. Mary Shivers was a skinny white schoolteacher with more hormones than sense. Even before he could chastise her, he heard his side door open. Moments later, six-foot-three-inch Willie Hooks barged into the store. The big carpenter stuffed five dollars into Albert's hand, ran to the woman, seized her up in one arm, and carried her to the back of the shop. Albert had followed, desperately trying to explain about the visit he'd gotten from the furious white men that afternoon, but Hooks and the schoolteacher were deaf to all appeals. Three seconds after the door slammed in his face, Albert heard the sounds of people shedding clothes. A moment later, the woman yelped, and then the springs in the old sofa in the back room went to singing.

"Five minutes!" Albert had shouted through the door. "I'm kicking open this door in five minutes. I ain't dying for you two!"

The couple took no notice.

Albert cursed and walked toward his display window. Third Street looked blessedly empty, but within five seconds Deputy John DeLillo's cruiser rolled into view, moving at walking speed. Acid flooded Albert's stomach. He wondered where the schoolteacher had parked her car. Deputy DeLillo was even bigger than Willie Hooks, and he had a fearsome temper. He'd killed at least four black men Albert knew about, and he'd beaten countless others with rods, phone books, and a leather strap spiked with roofing tacks.

Big John's cruiser stopped in the middle of the street. His big head leaned out of the car to gaze into Albert's shop window. Albert couldn't see the deputy's eyes, thanks to the mirrored sunglasses he wore, but he knew what DeLillo was looking for. Pooky Wilson was the most wanted man in Concordia Parish tonight. Just eighteen, Pooky had gained that dubious distinction by bedding the eighteen-year-old daughter of one of the richest men in the parish. Since he'd worked at Albert's store for nearly a year, Pooky had naturally run to Albert when he learned that the Klan and the police—often one and the same—were combing the parish for him. Knowing that local "justice" for Pooky would mean a tall tree and a short rope, Albert had hidden the boy in the safe box he'd constructed for illegal whiskey, which he sold on a seasonal basis. For the past two hours, Pooky had been sitting cramped in the shell of a Hammond spinet organ in Albert's workshop. Positioned against a wall, the A-105 looked like it weighed five hundred pounds, but the hollow housing could hold a full load of moonshine, and even a man in a pinch. There was a trapdoor beneath it for dumping contraband during emergencies (and a hidey-hole dug in the earth below), but since the music store sat up on blocks, Pooky couldn't use that for escape until after dark.

Excerpted from Natchez Burning by Greg Iles. Copyright © 2015 by Greg Iles. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...
  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...
  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

"Electrifying . . . as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it's set."
—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg

    An emotionally powerful novel from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.