978-0-340-76690-3 / 0340766905

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About the book:

Successful novelist Penn Cage comes back to Natchez to recover--a long career as a prosecutor has left him with enemies on both sides of the law and he has been shattered by the death of his wife. A quixotic decision to talk frankly about the town's racial politics to Caitlin, an attractive woman journalist, means he is asked to investigate the long-ago murder of black civil rights worker Del Payton, and almost at once he is being threatened, cajoled and shot at. Cage finds his enquiries coming close to home--his doctor father has skeletons in his closet and Liv Marston, the high school sweetheart Cage loved and lost, comes back into his life the moment he starts investigating the activities and connections of her industrialist father.

Iles' Natchez is a superficially civilised rats nest of intrigue where everyone plays the quiet game:

White and black both. Everybody keeping quiet, making like things is sweet and easy, trying to fish that new plant in here. Nobody wants nobody digging into Del's killing. Nobody 'cept you...Del's killers is playing the quiet game too. They been playing it thirty years. Not even sweatin'. You got to make people nervous to win the quiet game...
Cage, a man driven by a mixture of justice and vengeance, is a convincing new hero from Iles, if one who comes with rather more back story than is always easy to assimilate. The eventual courtroom drama--Cage adopts the high-risk strategy of making Marson sue him for slander--is especially powerful. --Roz Kaveney

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