Category: Books

Greg Iles – Personal Tragedy Underlying the Author’s Natchez Series


Natchez Series pic
Natchez Series

Based in Waco, Texas, Bert Vandiver leads LR Commercial Construction, Inc., and provides a full range of services focused on energy-industry activities in the Permian Basin. An avid reader, Bert Vandiver is particularly drawn to the works of Greg Iles. Born in Germany and a longtime Mississippi resident, Iles is known for works such as Natchez Burning, which is set in the South of the 1960s and presents a vivid chronicle of tumultuous times.

The book has a strong personal component, as Iles was involved in a life-threatening accident near Natchez, Mississippi, while finishing up the volume. The 2011 incident involved another vehicle slamming into his car, which resulted in a torn aorta and multiple broken bones. Following a medically induced coma that lasted more than a week, Iles had part of his right leg amputated.

The end result of this brush with mortality was to give Iles greater impetus as a writer and what was initially a single-length volume became an 800 page work, with the 2014 book only the first of a trilogy. Also coming to terms with the recent passing of his father, Iles described the experience behind Natchez as expanding his take on writing and making him realize there was no place in the novel for “formula and fluff.”


The Enduring Popularity of the Crime Thriller Genre


John Sandford pic
John Sandford

As the president and CEO of LR Commercial Construction Inc., an oil field pipeline and heavy civil construction company based in Waco, Texas, Bert Vandiver oversees the operations and manages the 75 employees under his watch. Whenever he’s free, Bert Vandiver enjoys reading books and identifies John Sanford as one of his favorite authors.

John Roswell Camp, more popularly known by the pseudonym John Sanford, is a bestselling author and a recipient of numerous writing awards, including a Pulitzer Prize. He has over 40 novels under his name, 25 of which are a part of the long-running Prey series, which falls under the crime thriller fiction genre.

Crime thriller fiction continues to be a popular fiction genre around the globe, and there are many reasons for this. First, unlike Shakespearean tragedies where the main characters come from society’s elite or ruling class, crime thrillers feature heroes which are commoners, hence making the characters more accessible to the masses.

Another reason why crime thrillers continue to enthrall audiences is because their plots often actually mimic what happens in real life. This is in contrast with other fiction genres such as sci-fi or fantasy, where the stories are more removed from real life in both time and circumstances. With crime thrillers, the stories that audiences read about are not so different from what can often be seen on the nightly news, making the sense of danger inherent in these stories feel real and palpable.

An Introduction to Author Greg Iles

Author Greg Iles pic
Author Greg Iles

Since 2002, Bert Vandiver has served as the president and CEO of LR Commercial Construction, Inc., in Waco, Texas. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, flying, and reading. Bert Vandiver includes Greg Iles among his favorite authors.

Born in Germany in 1960, Greg Iles moved to Natchez, Mississippi, early in childhood, and he still lives and works in the city today. After graduating from the University of Mississippi in 1983, Iles spent several years playing guitar in a band called Frankly Scarlet, but he eventually grew tired of life on the road and turned his attention to writing.

He released his first novel, Spandau Phoenix, in 1993, and it soon found a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Since then, Iles has written 11 more bestsellers, including The Quiet Game and Natchez Burning, which both feature the protagonist Penn Cage. Iles, who has written in several genres over the course of his career, is currently working on a graphic novel called The Lost Century.