May 11, 2015

The Bone Tree (Penn Cage #5)

The Bone TreeThe Bone Tree by Greg Iles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The prologue begins before some of the events in Natchez Burning. One of the most irritating things about this series is the way he keeps flipping back and forth between the characters so the book(s) advance at a snails pace.

The Bone Tree begins with FBI Agent John Kaiser trying to remotely hack into Caitlin's newspaper office computer and get Henry Sexton's notes. He discovers someone is already inside the computer and erasing the information. Hopefully he will be able to capture some of the information before it disappears forever. He is unaware that Penn and Caitlin were taken prisoner by Brody Royal and that Henry died saving their lives, and that Huggy Bear also died saving Penn and Caitlin. And that Henry immolated Brody Royal when he died. It was very disconcerting to start the book with Kaiser talking like the events that I read in Natchez Burning hadn't taken place until I remembered how he flipped back and forth between past events in the previous book, from each characters point of view.

Penn and Caitlin decide what they are going to tell the police. The Concordia Parish Sheriff's Department gets there first and Sheriff Walker Dennis takes Penn and Caitlin into custody. Penn and Sheriff Dennis plan to hit the Knox's meth labs in an effort to capture a Double Eagle and get them to talk. Before Penn and Caitlin can leave Ozan shows up threatening to arrest Penn and Caitlin as suspects in Brody Royal's murder and informing Sheriff Dennis that the State Police are taking over all the investigations. Kaiser steps in and tells Ozan that Penn and Caitlin are victims of a kidnapping and that the FBI will be taking over the cases under the Patriot Act and that both Ozan and his boss Forrest Knox are being investigated. Caitlin leaves with Jordan and goes to the newspaper to get the story out. Penn and Kaiser leave together and Kaiser gives Penn more information including the fact that the FBI thinks Tom Cage has information on the assassination of JFK, and that he is working with Dwight Stone's group to solve cases that J. Edgar Hoover refused to allow them to solve.

Tom Cage leaves the surviving gunman by the side of the road with his partners corpse and instructs the survivor to deliver a message to Forrest Knox. If Forrest makes his problems go away he will see that Penn and Caitlin don't reveal what they know and he will keep his silence about what he knows. Walt lets Tom know what happened at Brody Royal's house and tells him he will be meeting with Griffith Mackiever soon. Tom makes his way to Quentin's house, where he plans to lay low. Walt discovers that Forrest is blackmailing Mackiever to step down. Walt talks Mackiever into standing up to Forrest. Walt breaks into Forrest house and finds evidence that Forrest was involved with the police shootings in New Orleans after Katrina, he also leaves the gun he shot the deputy with at Forrest house. He tells Mackiever about it and encourages him to use the information, but Mackiever hesitates.

Caitlin has someone follow Melba and she leads Caitlin to Tom. Tom tells Caitlin what he knows but swears her to secrecy until he and Peggy are dead (And aggravatingly enough we don't know what he told her). He does reveal that a teenage Forrest was one of the men who raped Viola. And that Viola killed Frank Sr. and he helped cover it up.

Forrest is getting desperate and considers making a deal with Tom, but if that falls through he plans to have Snake kill everyone who is a threat to him and then kill Snake and Sonny. He talks Snake's son Billy into going along with his plan. Walt sneaks inside Fort Knox, but is trapped there when Forrest and the Double Eagle's arrive.

Penn meets with Stone and he lays out why he thinks Frank Sr. was the sniper who actually killed JFK and how Tom Cage was involved in the assassination.

Forrest finds out where Tom is and sends his Black Team after him. They take him to Walt's RV, and Forrest and Tom come to an understanding. After Forrest leaves Snake and Sonny show up supposedly with food for the Black Team and take Tom from them. Snake has figured out that Forrest is planning to double cross them and gets Billy to confirm it, and tell them where Forrest is keeping Tom. Snake also tells Billy that Elam molested both his sons and his older grandsons. When Frank Jr. committed suicide in Vietnam due to the molestation Frank Sr. took Elam to The Bone Tree and killed him. Before he died he revealed he had also molested Forrest but not Billy.

Walt is finally able to get out of Fort Knox and tries to find where Forrest has Tom.

Penn realizes Forrest planted drugs on Sheriff Dennis. They use a K9 dog to find the drugs and remove them. Penn then advises Sheriff Dennis to plant the drugs on the Double Eagles.

Jordan Glass goes with Caitlin to find The Bone Tree. Before they can find it they find a body and the police are called in. Caitlin loses her map, when she dives into the water to make sure the body isn't Tom Cage. Jordan has to leave for the New Orleans Airport, but before she leaves she gives Caitlin a copy she made of the map and her multi tool. Caitlin is approached by a young black man at the gas station where she is meeting Terry (one of her newspaper employees), Harold offers to take her to the Bone Tree for money. She goes with him but leaves Terry behind to man the phones. Because the man was black Caitlin never dreamed he was working for Forrest. When they get to the Bone Tree Harold shoots her in the heart. A dying Caitlin finds an unconscious Tom Cage, inside the Bone Tree.

Kaiser gets Sonny to talk but because he was gone so long Snake gets suspicious. Forrest arranges an attack on the house where Peggy and Annie are staying, while Kaiser and Penn are making sure Peggy and Annie are safe Forrest arranges for a bomb threat to force an evacuation of the city jail. The FBI guy left in charge refuses to allow the special prisoners to be evacuated fearing that it is an attempt to break them out, but when the lights go out the cell doors are opened giving Snake time to get in Sonny's cell and kill him. Jordan calls and tells Penn that she is afraid that Caitlin went back into the swamp after she left. Penn heads for the swamp and Kaiser heads back to the jail to deal with Sonny's death.

Walt is tracking Forrest and Ozan who are near the swamp.

Caitlin gives Tom the last peppermint in her purse and revives him. A handcuffed Tom tells Caitlin how to use the multi-tool and the tube from a pen to relieve the pressure on her heart. A desperate Caitlin performs surgery on herself and succeeds in relieving the pressure. Tom then goes back into a diabetic coma. The tube becomes clogged and a weakened Caitlin tries desperately to clear it but passes out before she can. Penn Cage arrives moments to late. While everyone is busy dealing with Caitlin's death at the hospital Tom walks out of the hospital and gets in contact with Walt who picks him up. They go to Pythia's house to hideout and so Tom can receive the medical care he needs.

Peggy drugs Penn to keep him from doing something stupid.

Forrest and Ozan set fire to the Bone Tree and clear out Fort Knox.

Griffith Mackiever and Kaiser team up.

Tom resurfaces at Henry Sexton's funeral where he delivers the eulogy and Kaiser (as prearranged) takes him into custody afterwards.

Penn goes to Fort Knox to confront Forrest, when Forrest reveals that Caitlin was pg when she died Penn snaps and kills him. Walt arrives and takes out Ozan before he can kill Penn and they flee the scene. Billy arrives shortly thereafter and finds a memory card from a security camera Walt missed and has Penn arrested for the murder of Forrest. Some fancy footwork by Kaiser and Mackiever has Penn exonerated.

Supposedly the DNA test Tom had run proves he is Lincoln's Father. I really hope it doesn't. We know Tom had a DNA test run on Lincoln's baby teeth, but we don't know whose DNA he compared it too. Tom and Walt have been exonerated for killing the State police officer, but Tom still has to stand trial for Viola's murder.

Snake brings down the plane with the evidence the FBI collected against the Double Eagles on board.

I really have to say I am furious that Iles' killed off Caitlin after she fought so hard to live. I also don't have much interest in the third book in the trilogy as the only question left is who killed Viola.

I was right Jimmy Revels did live. His survival is revealed when Jimmy and Swan's grandson comes to Henry's funeral, along with Swan.

View all my reviews

Natchez Burning (Penn Cage, #4)



  1. Thank you so much for this synopsis! I read on goodreads that many think exactly the same as you about this triology. So I decided not to bother reading nr 2 or number 3. I cant stand it when writers forces you along for a read that goes back and forth in events like you describe Greg Illes to do here, it is wasting every reader's time and is rude. I am grateful you let me know what happened in book nr 2, and with Caitlin dead, there is not much more to interest me further. She has been along for such a long time, so why kill her off now? Is he going back to be a pityful greaving man again for the next 10 books to come. I am not going to have patients to follow that story. Not intested.
    So once again, thank you so much!

  2. I think Caitlin is alive. Medically induced coma and put into witness protection.

    1. I doubt it, although I like the idea.


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