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The Quilty Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

The Bone Tree by Greg Iles

The Bone Tree - Greg Iles

Wow. This was one of the most intense books I've ever read.

I have come to believe that the United States was founded in atrocity, and that we bear a scar that can never be healed without a full reckoning of the horror of slavery, Jim Crow, the Klan, lynchings, and the tremendous injustices that have been perpetrated on the black community. As Faulkner said:

"The past is never dead. It isn't even past."

Corruption has two meanings. In the first, it refers to government corruption - where the government operates in a way that is dishonest, typically to the benefit of the wealthy or well-placed. In the second, it refers to decay - the corruption of a corpse as it decomposes. In this trilogy, Iles is exploring both kinds of corruption, and how the first festers in such a way that it ultimately causes the entire society to decay.

If I have one complaint about this book, it is the entire subplot related to the Kennedy assassination. There is so much power in this narrative about racial injustice and terrorism and its effect on both its victims, its adversaries and its perpetrators that I feel like that entire tangent is unnecessary and weakens the force of the book. As Nietsche said:

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

I'm not sure that there will be a single character left who hasn't descended into the abyss by the time this trilogy concludes.