Sunday, April 19, 2015

Greg Iles continues best-selling series with 'Bone Tree'

Some things come in small packages, others in sizes much like Harry Potter. Such is the latter of Greg Iles’s latest book in his gothic trilogy featuring Southern lawyer Penn Cage. “The Bones Tree” follows the first book in the thriller series, the New York Times best-selling “Natchez Burning.” Since I have not finished this captivating — and quite large — novel at press time, here’s the gist: Cage and his fiancée, reporter and publisher Caitlin Masters have barely escaped with their lives after being attacked by wealthy businessman Brody Royal and his Double Eagles, a KKK sect with ties to some of Mississippi’s most powerful men. But the real danger begins when FBI Special Agent John Kaiser warns Penn that Brody wasn’t the true leader of the Double Eagles. The puppeteer who controls the terrorist group is the chief of the state police’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, Forrest Knox. The only way Penn can save his father, Dr. Tom Cage—who is fleeing a murder charge as well as corrupt cops bent on killing him—is either to make a bargain with Knox or destroy him. While Penn desperately pursues both options, Caitlin uncovers the real story behind a series of unsolved civil rights murders that may hold the key to the Double Eagles’ downfall. The trail leads to a secret killing ground used by slave owners and the Klan for over 200 years, a place of terrifying evil known only as “the bone tree.”
Iles will be signing “The Bone Tree” at 6 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 2590 Citiplace Court in Baton Rouge.

At the library
            Last week I was asked to do two programs at the Ouachita Parish Library in West Monroe — with librarians/branch managers Kathy Franks at West Ouachita and Vicky Powell at Searcy Memorial. Both the hospitality of the librarians and the kindness of the people who arrived to discuss my latest books was overwhelming.
            That following Saturday I was honored to be part of more than 40 authors attending the annual Authors Row at the Jones Creek Library in Baton Rouge, an event the librarians host to support local writers. I got to sit next to one of my most favorite people in the world, David Atwood, a voice-over specialist from Alexandria who’s written two amazing poetry collections.
            In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, I think Louisiana libraries and the people who run them unsung heroes of the literary world. Not only are libraries the pulsing hearts of our communities but on the front end of the fight against illiteracy. Plus, they help writers keep the lights on and get us out of our dark little corners where we work in solitude.
            I’m in awe of these wonderful people and I can’t thank them enough.
            One of the authors I reconnected with at my West Monroe workshop was Phil Sims of West Monroe, author of the Christian thriller surrounding a returning Vietnam soldier in “Not Without Purpose.” The book follows returning Eric Sanderson who reconnects with a high school friend, Johnny “Slick” Matthews, and ends up with a dead man in Matthews’ truck. The men dump the body where two Boy Scouts are beginning a hike on the Appalachian Trail and so begins the tale.
Sims, a Vietnam veteran and a Boy Scout scoutmaster, related how his publisher will be going out of business at the end of April so get your copies of this captivating novel now before it’s too late. Amazon and Barnes & Noble online also offer the book in ebook format, and if you still want a future paperback, Sims will be republishing.
            Today is the last day of National Library Week, but every week is a good time to visit your local library. 

Poetry Month
In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Louisiana Center for the Book is offering its fifth annual Just Listen to Yourself: The Louisiana Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the State Library Seminar Center in Baton Rouge. Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Leavell Haymon will host the event and poets from throughout the state will read their works, including Ralph Adamo, Jack B. Bedell, Darrell Bourque, Carlos Colón, Peter Cooley, Dorothy Early Davis, Gina Ferrara, Ashley Mace Havird, Julie Kane, Madeleine LeCesne, Melinda Palacio, Alison Pelegrin, Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore, Afton Wilky and Andy Young. Listen to Yourself is free and open to the public. Attendees are invited to bring brown bag lunches and come and go as their schedules allow. For more information visit www.state.lib.la.us.

Book events
“Making Medicine: Finding Health in Your Kitchen” will be offered from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Alexandre Mouton House/Lafayette Museum, 1122 Lafayette St. in downtown Lafayette. Local author, Master Gardener and medicinal herb enthusiast Lanier Cordell will explain how ordinary kitchen items can help keep you well. Refreshments will be served.
         The Jeanerette Museum is hosting a history talk by Robert Allen Alexander Jr. on “Last Island: The First Storm” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 22. Alexander, head of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Nicholls State University, will discuss what is considered Louisiana’s first great storm, the hurricane of 1856. He will draw from the books, “Chita: A Memory of Last Island” and “Last Days of Last Island,” to bring to life the chaos and devastation of the category four hurricane and its effect on Louisiana. For more information on this free program suitable for an adult audience, contact the Jeanerette Museum at (337) 276-4408, visit their webpage at JeaneretteMuseum.com or email the museum at jeanerettemuseum@yahoo.com.
            Kimberly Willis Holt, author of “Dear Hank Williams,” will be signing books at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 23, at Octavia Books in New Orleans. Holt is the author of the many award-winning novels for young adults and children, including “The Water Seeker,” “My Louisiana Sky” and “When Zachary Beaver Came to Town,” winner of a National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. She is also the author of the bestselling Piper Reed series of chapter books and several picture books. For more information, visit http://www.kimberlywillisholt.com/.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.