Mississippi Books and Writers
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By Howard Bahr
Picador (Paperback, $13.00, ISBN: 0312265077)
Publication date: July 2000
Description from Kirkus Reviews (1 February 1997)
Bahr makes an impressive debut with a haunting tale of a brief but bloody encounter on the road to Nashville, which helped put paid to the Confederate cause in the latter stages of America's Civil War. Although a university graduate, Bushrod Carter is a private soldier in the 21st Mississippi, a storied regiment in the battered Southern army commanded by General John Bell Hood. Scattered by Sherman's march to the sea, Bushrod and his fellow veterans (wearied by three years of unremitting combat) find themselves facing fresh Union forces outside Franklin, Tenn., in late November of 1864. Ordered to attack, they advance across an open field to meet their entrenched foe on a fine autumn afternoon. After a fierce battle (seen only through the eyes of women and children in the farmstead Rebel officers have requisitioned as a hospital), the real horrors begin. Bandsmen bearing wounded from the battlefield by the light of guttering torches find Bushrod (who's sustained a concussion and lost a finger) almost by chance beneath a pile of corpses, but his two best friends did not survive the engagement. Meantime, under cover of darkness, scavengers roam the killing ground stripping the dead of their valuables, and a former teacher crazed by the carnage prays that God will forgive the South. Apparently little the worse for wear, Bushrod eventually manages to locate and bury his dead mates. Assisting him in this sad business is Anna Hereford, a relative visiting the family that owns the farm. While nearly dehumanized by what he's been through, the youngand doomedrifleman feels attracted to Anna, who warily returns his interest. He soon follows his fallen comrades, however, leaving Anna to grieve for what might have been. A bleakly effective and economical account of men and women caught up in a bestial conflict. —Copyright © 1997 Kirkus Associates, LP.
A Novel by Greg Iles
Signet (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0451180429)
Publication date: July 2000
Description from Kirkus Reviews:
Preposterous, but eminently suspenseful, legal procedural about a Mississippi river towns buried secrets, by the author of Mortal Fear (1996), etc. Penn Cage, once a Texas prosecutor, now an infinitely wealthy bestselling lawyer-novelist, cant get over the recent cancer death of his wife, and is just a bit troubled about death threats from the brother of a demented white supremacist he put on death row. After a vacation in Disney World with his daughter Annie, Cage embarks on an extended visit with his parents in Natchez, Tennessee, where he finds that Ray Presley, a white-trash former cop is blackmailing Penns saintly physician father. It seems that Presley filched a gun from the good doctor, then used it in an unsolved murder. Now, Penn buys back the gun from Presley with a mountain of cash, and later sits down for a famous author interview with the young, rich, beautiful, and brainy Caitlin Masters, the Pulitzer-crazed publisher of the local newspaper, during which he mentions, in passing, a 1968 racially motivated murder of Del Peyton, a young, black factory worker that both the police and the FBI failed to solve. Masters prints her interview, stirring up old animosities all over, including a rancorous legal dispute between Cages father and Judge Leo Marston, a local powerbroker who was a district attorney at the time. Peytons widow suddenly appears and asks the famous writer to find who killed her husband. Penn reluctantly agrees, then runs into his old girlfriend, Livy Marston, Leo's flawless, southern-belle daughter. Livy mysteriously ditched Cage 20 years ago, but now cant wait to stoke the old fire. Meanwhile, FBI Director John Portman, Cages old nemesis, weighs in with nasty threats as Cage braves bullies, dodges bullets, rides down icy rapids, and prepares for a courtroom battle. Breezy, Grisham-style read that tweaks the conventions of southern gothic. (Author tour) Copyright © 1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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