For those who like crime drama with a Southern twist.
Who is Penn Cage?
American novelist Greg Iles takes us to Natchez, Mississippi, where he has set the action of this crime series named after his main protagonist Penn Cage.
After a personal tragedy, former Houston prosecutor Penn Cage decided to go back to his childhood home of Natchez. There he starts working on a murder case as he reconnects with old acquaintances.
As he continues to fight crime, Penn Cage also plays a bigger part in the life of his city.
How to read the Penn Cage Books in Order?
The following list is about the novels featuring Penn Cage. He also makes minor appearances in Sleep No More and True Evil.
- The Quiet Game (1999)
- Turning Angel (2005)
- The Devil’s Punchbowl (2009)
- The Death Factory (novella, 2014)
- Natchez Burning (2012)
- The Bone Tree (2014)
- Mississippi Blood (2017)
- Southern Man (2023)
What is the plot of the Penn Cage novels?
For more information about the books in the Penn Cage series by Greg Iles, you’ll find below the official synopsis for all the books:
The Quiet Game – Natchez, Mississippi. Jewel of the South. City of old money and older sins. And childhood home of Houston prosecutor Penn Cage. In the aftermath of a personal tragedy, this is where Penn has returned for solitude. This is where he hopes to find peace. What he discovers instead is his own family trapped in a mystery buried for thirty years but never forgotten-the town’s darkest secret, now set to trap and destroy Penn as well.
Turning Angel – When the nude body of prep school student Kate Townsend is found near the Mississippi River, Penn Cage’s best friend, Drew Elliott, is desperate for his counsel. An esteemed family physician, Drew makes a shocking confession that could put him on death row. Penn will do all he can to exonerate Drew, but in a town where the gaze of a landmark cemetery statue-the Turning Angel-never looks away, Penn finds himself caught on the jagged edge of blackmail, betrayal, and deadly violence.
The Devil’s Punchbowl – In its quest for new jobs and fresh money, the town of Natchez has turned to gambling. Five fantastical steamboats float on the river, but one boat isn’t like the others. Rumour has it that the Magnolia Queen has found a way to pull in the big players. And with them comes an unquenchable taste for blood sport, and the dark vices that go with it. When a childhood friend of Penn Cage’s, who brings him evidence of the sickening crimes, is murdered, he begins a dangerous quest to find those responsible.
The Death Factory (novella) – When a heart attack sends Penn’s father, Tom Cage, to the ER, Tom begs that his son be brought to his side to hear a dying declaration. But when Penn arrives, Tom denies ever making the request – keeping his secrets for another day. The emergency hurls Penn back to a chilling case in Houston, where he worked in a DA’s office known as the “death factory”, which sent more killers to death row than any other in America.
The next three books form what is called the Natchez Burning Trilogy.
Natchez Burning – Raised in the southern splendor of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned all he knows of duty from his father, Dr. Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor has been accused of murdering the African American nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the 1960s. Once a crusading prosecutor, Penn is determined to save his father, but Tom, stubbornly invoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses even to speak in his own defense.
The Bone Tree – Former prosecutor Penn Cage and his fiancee, 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 has only begun as FBI Special Agent John Kaiser warns Penn that Brody isn’t the true leader of the Double Eagles. The puppeteer who actually controls the terrorist group is a man far more fearsome: the chief of the state police’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, Forrest Knox.
Mississippi Blood – Shattered by grief and dreaming of vengeance, Penn Cage sees his family and his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone, his principles have been irrevocably compromised, and his father, once a paragon of the community that Penn leads as mayor, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. Most terrifying of all, Dr. Cage seems bent on self-destruction. Despite Penn’s experience as a prosecutor in major murder trials, his father has frozen him out of the trial preparations – preferring to risk dying in prison to revealing the truth of the crime to his son.
A Southern Man – Fifteen years after the events of the Natchez Burning trilogy, Penn Cage is alone. Nearly all his loved ones are dead, and his old allies gone. Pursued by enemies and demoralized by a divided community, he’s found sanctuary on a former cotton plantation above the Mississippi River. But Penn’s self-imposed exile comes to an abrupt end when a brawl at a Bienville rap concert triggers a shooting-one that nearly takes the life of his daughter Annie.