Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Turning Pages Books & More owner Mary Emrick organizes the 150 signed books that were shipped to her store Monday morning. The bookstore in downtown Natchez opened at midnight for those who wanted to get their hands on the book as soon as it was available to the public.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Turning Pages Books & More owner Mary Emrick organizes the 150 signed books that were shipped to her store Monday morning. The bookstore in downtown Natchez opened at midnight for those who wanted to get their hands on the book as soon as it was available to the public.

Local author returns to shelves today with ‘Natchez Burning’

Published 12:01am Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NATCHEZ — Local author Greg Iles’ new book “Natchez Burning” hits shelves today, and local bookstores are expecting big sales for Iles’ first book in five years.

Turning Pages owner Mary Emrick said 200 people pre-ordered “Natchez Burning.”

“They have been clamoring for the book for years,” she said.

The store ordered 600 books, and Emrick said she expects a busy store today.

Turning Pages opened at midnight and had coffee and doughnuts for those who turned out to get the first copies of the book.

“All of our customers, of course, love Greg,” Emrick said.

Emrick read an advanced copy of the book and said she thoroughly enjoyed it.

“It really is one that you want to stay up and read,” she said. “You don’t get those very often.”

Bookland manager Renee Henderson said the store had several pre-orders and has been selling Iles’ earlier books in the past few months.

“This book has been hot for six months, and for the last three months, we’ve really been pushing it,” she said. “We’ve had customers coming in and asking for it for a while. It’s really going to be a great sell.”

“Natchez Burning” marks the No. 1 New York Times Bestselling author’s return to shelves after a five-year hiatus and a 2011 car wreck that nearly claimed Iles’ life.

The book is the first in a new Penn Cage trilogy. It picks up where “The Devil’s Punchbowl” ended and finds Penn determined to save his father, “a beloved family doctor who has been accused of murdering Viola Turner, the African-American nurse with whom he worked with in the dark days of the 1960s,” according to the summary on the book’s jacket.

Penn’s quest to clear his father’s name sends him into his father’s past, where “a sexually charged secret lies waiting to tear their family apart.”

The book has received glowing reviews from fellow authors and starred reviews from “Kirkus Reviews,” “Library Journal,”
“Booklist” and “Publishers Weekly.”

No. 1 New York Times Bestselling author Stephen King called “Natchez Burning” “extraordinarily entertaining and fiendishly suspenseful.”

“I defy you to start it and find a way to put it down; as long as it is, I wished it were longer,” King wrote in a review provided by the book’s publisher, William Morrow. “There’s a bonus: you’ll finish it knowing a great deal about the Deep South’s personal struggle toward racial equality, and the bloody road between then and now. Only a Southern man could have written this book, and thank God Greg Iles was there to do the job. This is an amazing work of popular fiction.”