“I never meant to kill my brother. I never set out to hate my father. I never dreamed I would bury my own son. Nor could I have imagined that I would betray the childhood friend who saved my life, or win a Pulitzer Prize for telling a lie.”
Marshall McEwan is an award-winning journalist at the top of his game when he’s called home to Bienville, Mississippi to care for his terminally ill father and take over his newspaper. Some things never change, Jet, the woman he loves, is married to his childhood best friend, the Poker Club still controls the town, and his father still won’t speak to him. Marshall soon discovers the Poker Club may be behind two recent deaths and the town’s economic salvation may be at risk. Teaming up with Jet, Marshall begins digging to uncover the truth. The explosive secrets he finds puts everything at risk, including their lives.
“We’re witnessing the last gasp of white America, and it’s a lulu. Our people think the land of liberty’s their God-given country club and the caddies have forgotten their place. But revolution’s coming…. just not the one they think.”
Greg Iles “Cemetery Road” is a story of heartache and redemption. Marshall McEwan has had a series of heartbreaks; his brother died when they were teens and his father blames him, he let the love of his life getaway and now she’s married to his childhood best friend, his son died in a tragic accident and his marriage couldn’t survive it. Now he’s put his career on hold to help his mother care for the father who blames him, while trying to save the failing family newspaper.
What I loved most in reading this book was watching Marshall’s character grow and find redemption and understanding: learning that his childhood memories and perceptions weren’t true indicators of his reality, accepting that people are complex and complicated, and realizing that right and wrong aren’t always clear cut and that’s ok. It all occurs with a thriller backdrop of the patriarchal and criminal Poker Club running everything behind the scenes, deadly secrets, and murder.
“(N)obody even cares about the truth anymore.”
Greg Iles has been my favorite author for years. His characters are realistic, and feel like people you know. I was very lucky to meet Greg Iles twice during his tours for the “Natchez Burning” trilogy. (I HIGHLY recommend this trilogy, especially to get a feel for how unsafe and terrifying the South was for black people during Jim Crow. The stories are fictionalized but based on real accounts of the era.)
I first discovered Greg Iles while stuck at an airport for 9 hours, alone. And not as super cool fun airport with lots of cools shops and food, no I was trapped in a small unexciting airport. I was in college flying from a debate tournament and somehow got stuck with the longest layover ever. (Looking back, I should’ve rented a car and driven home, it was only 7 hours from that airport.) I had nothing to do so I wandered around several shops including an airport bookstore to find something to entertain myself. Now, I always judge books by their covers, and that day I was grabbed by the cover of “Blood Memory.” The cover was dark with 3 trees in swamp, Spanish moss hanging down, trimmed with gold that sparkled in the glaring florescent light. The book jacket sounded interesting, so I bought it along with a diet coke and a Snickers bar and settled in. I started reading and I didn’t stop. When it was time to board the plan, I still held it and kept reading it in line. I’m sure I got some funny looks, but I didn’t stop until I finished it. That’s rare. I never read a book in one sitting, with the exception of the later Harry Potter books to avoid spoilers. Greg Iles has a way of writing that makes you want more. I can’t wait for his next one.
For this book, there’s a moment when Nadine the bookstore owner is trying to comfort a kid who’s grandfather is in the hospital. She brings him a raspberry muffin, his favorite from her store. I’ve never had a raspberry muffin. I’ve had mixed berry muffin flavored mix, but never a homemade raspberry muffin. So I did. I found a great recipe from OMG Chocolate Desserts, though this one does not have chocolate. These were easy and so so good!
Raspberry Streusel Muffins
For the muffins:
1 c all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 large egg
½ c sugar
½ yogurt (I used sour cream and it was delicious!!!)
¼ vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c fresh raspberries
For the Streusel:
½ c all-purpose flour
⅓ c sugar
½ stick (4 Tbsp) butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line muffin pan with liners
- Make the streusel topping. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Add melted butter and stir with fork until crumbly. Set aside.
- In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together egg and granulated sugar until combined. Mix in yogurt (or sour cream), oil, and vanilla extract.
- Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together by hand.
- Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin. (2 Tbsp in each cup)
- Cover the batter with raspberries and then cover raspberries with streusel topping.
- Place them in the oven and reduce the heat to 375°F. Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.