cover image Natchez Burning

Natchez Burning

Greg Iles, read by David Ledoux. Harper Audio, , 30 CDs, 36 hrs., unabridged, $65.99 ISBN 978-0-06-233186-1

Theater and film actor Ledoux is given a full vocal workout in this ambitious novel set in the apparently still (as of 2005) Ku Klux Klan–infested state of Mississippi. The book spans several decades of Klan villainy, from torture and murder in the 1960s to more recent homicides prompted by the return of a witness. Ledoux delivers Isles’s rich, eventful story in properly dramatic style, underlining its many suspenseful moments while capturing the book’s atmospheric trappings and the voices of its large cast—from homicidal racists to African-Americans, fearful and proud—with effective accents that are subtle rather than stereotypical. But the author’s major achievement is his handling of the chapters narrated in present tense by Penn, the humane and honorable mayor. Ledoux captures Penn’s increasing desperation as his efforts to save his father, his relationship, and his city fail, adding a touch of mental anguish as the mayor struggles to decide if his search for justice is worth it. A Morrow hardcover. (May)