Writer Plumbs 'Nature Of Evil' In Hometown's Violent Civil Rights Past : NPR: Mississippi's past looms large in Greg Iles' best-selling thrillers. His latest book, Natchez Burning, is the first in a trilogy that takes readers back 50 years to chilling civil rights-era murders and conspiracies all set in Iles' hometown — the antebellum river city of Natchez, Miss.
Iles' hero, Penn Cage, is a former prosecutor and widowed single father who has returned to his childhood home. Once there, he finds himself confronting killers, corruption and dark secrets.
"Penn Cage I think of as annoyingly righteous sometimes," Iles says. "He's almost too good."
The author says he wanted to create a character who reflected the Southern men he knew growing up in Natchez.
"He is not, in any way, a traditional hero," Iles explains. "He's not always the actor who's committing all the things to make the story happen. In some ways, he's almost an observer sometimes. He is trying to figure out the 'why' of things."