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Iles to publish 3 more Penn Cage books

NATCHEZ — Best-selling Natchez author Greg Iles will continue his Penn Cage series with a new publisher and a trilogy of books, the first of which will be published next year.

Iles has moved to William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, according to a press release from the company. “Natchez Burning,” the first book of the trilogy, will be published in May 2014.

The book, according to the press release, finds Penn Cage’s father, Dr. Tom Cage, accused of murdering his former nurse, whose death opens the door to several unsolved murders from the 1960s.

In 2010, while writing this trilogy, Iles lost his own father, who originally inspired the character of Dr. Tom Cage.

In 2011, Iles sustained life-threatening injuries in an automobile accident on U.S. 61 near Natchez.

Iles remained in a medically induced coma for eight days and ultimately lost part of his right leg. Doctors declared his survival miraculous and predicted a long recovery, according to the press release.

Yet early in his rehabilitation, Iles found comfort and motivation by re-entering the world of the characters, the town and the secrets that his fans have loved most. The road into these novels proved to be the road back to life for him, the release said.

“My father has always been the heart of my Penn Cage novels,” Iles said in the press release. “When he died during the writing of this book — and then I very nearly died myself — the thriller I was working on grew into something far more ambitious and profound.

Iles said this story is an exploration of family, race murder, and what used to be called “miscegenation” in the South.

It became epic in scope, and I began to see the exciting and unusual potential of stretching the plot across three interlinked novels,” he said.

Iles said he found a publisher in William Morrow that shared my vision of what a “thriller” could be once the conventional limits were removed. David Highfill, vice president executive editor, edited some of Iles’ earlier novels.

“So in that way, it felt like coming home,” Iles said. “He and the team at HarperCollins realized that this could be a groundbreaking opportunity to give readers not only something with visceral punch, but also a story that explores the darkest corners of America’s past.”

Iles announced on his website that William Morrow will in a few months publish a lengthy short story featuring Penn and Tom Cage that “fills in a critical period in their past, one that helps to set up the action in the coming trilogy.”

That story, Iles said, will be published in e-book format and will either be free or cost 99 cents.

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