2019 Book 66: CEMETERY ROAD by Greg Iles

Cemetery Road by Greg Iles
ISBN: 9780062824615 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062824639 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062824646 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07B7L4QMF (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow 
Publication Date: March 5, 2019

Sometimes the price of justice is a good man’s soul.

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Natchez Burning trilogy returns with an electrifying tale of friendship, betrayal, and shattering secrets that threaten to destroy a small Mississippi town.

“[A] compulsively readable thriller… Iles once again delivers a sweeping tale of family dysfunction, sexually charged secrets, and the power of wealth, with an overlay of violence and Southern sensibility.”   — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

When Marshall McEwan left his Mississippi hometown at eighteen, he vowed never to return. The trauma that drove him away spurred him to become one of the most successful journalists in Washington, DC. But as the ascendancy of a chaotic administration lifts him from print fame to television stardom, Marshall discovers that his father is terminally ill, and he must return home to face the unfinished business of his past.

On arrival, he finds Bienville, Mississippi very much changed. His family’s 150-year-old newspaper is failing; and Jet Turner, the love of his youth, has married into the family of Max Matheson, one of a dozen powerful patriarchs who rule the town through the exclusive Bienville Poker Club. To Marshall’s surprise, the Poker Club has taken a town on the brink of extinction and offered it salvation, in the form of a billion-dollar Chinese paper mill. But on the verge of the deal being consummated, two murders rock Bienville to its core, threatening far more than the city’s economic future.

An experienced journalist, Marshall has seen firsthand how the corrosive power of money and politics can sabotage investigations. Joining forces with his former lover—who through her husband has access to the secrets of the Poker Club—Marshall begins digging for the truth behind those murders. But he and Jet soon discover that the soil of Mississippi is a minefield where explosive secrets can destroy far more than injustice. The South is a land where everyone hides truths: of blood and children, of love and shame, of hate and murder—of damnation and redemption. The Poker Club’s secret reaches all the way to Washington, D.C., and could shake the foundations of the U.S. Senate. But by the time Marshall grasps the long-buried truth about his own history, he would give almost anything not to have to face it.

Marshall McEwan doesn’t see himself as a liberal, moderate, or conservative. He’s a journalist and his job is to reveal the truth and tell the whole story. Or at least that’s what he thought before he won the Pulitzer and he realized that it’s possible to become a success by omitting part of the story, even if that omission was done to protect a friend that was protecting your own life. After living the life of a renowned journalist in Washington D.C., Marshall has to return to Mississippi because of his father’s failing health. It is Bienville, MS that Marshall’s life begins to unravel all while seeking out the truth surrounding his surrogate father’s death or rather murder. Bienville stands to rise from the ashes with the building of a new paper mill, highway, and other businesses. The people and the region will prosper for not one or two years but possibly decades because of this deal, but is the deal worth the life of one man? As Marshall delves into the circumstances surrounding his friend’s murder, his own secret social life is about to be revealed as he’s having an affair with his high school girlfriend, his married high school girlfriend. Adding insult to injury, she’s married to the man that saved his life when he was embedded with the military. Marshall’s father is dying and other than occasional visits, he doesn’t really talk to him because he feels that his father still blames him for this older brother’s tragic death over 30 years ago. For the first time in a long time, Marshall is forced to face his feelings and memories from his past. He’s also forced to confront his current actions and their consequences. Can he face the past and deal with the present without destroying any hopes for a joyous future? Can he uncover the truth about his friend’s murder without completely derailing the future of his town? Will the “powers-that-be” allow him to walk away from his search for the truth or will there be dire consequences to his attempts to reveal their secrets whilst keeping his own hidden?

If you’ve read any of my past blog reviews, you probably know that I adore Greg Iles and love reading his books. I was so excited when he revealed the news about Cemetery Road and doubly excited when I received my review copy to read (thank you again William Morrow Books). If it weren’t for migraine interference, I would have read Cemetery Road in one day. (Yes, it was just that engrossing.) Sadly, weather-induced migraine headaches forced me to slow down quite a bit and it took several days to complete this book. Now, I’m rather pleased that I was forced to slow my read and savor the multiple complex storylines, complicated relationships, and deeply flawed yet realistic characters. It was intriguing to read about a Southern town about to be reborn because of a new industry. I live in Appalachia and there are plenty of towns dying or dead due to loss of an industry that would similarly welcome a new business, no matter what. Although I could empathize with the needs of the town and region for new growth and industry, I could also empathize with Marshall’s need to uncover the truth about a murder and then do whatever he could to try to protect his family and friends. Cemetery Road isn’t just a story about a man returning home, or a quashed murder investigation, or an extramarital affair, or the “good ole boys” network at work in the deep South. Yes, the story contains all of those elements and much more. I’ve tried for the past few days to neatly summarize this story and all I’ve come up with is it’s a damned good read. So, if you enjoy reading Southern Fiction then grab a copy. If you enjoy reading thrillers, grab a copy. If you enjoy reading about complex relationships and returning home, grab a copy. If you enjoy reading about good trying to conquer evil (and there are plenty of shades of evil), grab a copy. If you’re just looking for a good read, grab a copy. Mr. Iles has this amazing ability to take what initially appears to be a simple tale and deftly weave a complex towering story that captures the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Cemetery Road and highly recommend it. Now go and put this on your TBR list and get yourself a copy ASAP!

Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Cemetery Road

Cemetery Road

Cemetery Road

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