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The Devil's Punchbowl [MP3 CD]

Greg Iles , Jeff Harding
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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MP3 CD, Jan. 1 2010 --  

Book Description

Jan. 1 2010

A new day has dawned…but the darkest evils live forever in the murky depths of a Southern town.

Penn Cage was elected mayor of Natchez, Mississippi—the hometown he returned to after the death of his wife—on a tide of support for change. Two years into his term, casino gambling has proved a sure bet for bringing new jobs and fresh money to this fading jewel of the Old South. But deep inside the Magnolia Queen, a fantastical repurposed steamboat, a depraved hidden world draws high-stakes players with money to burn on their unquenchable taste for blood sport and the dark vices that go with it. When an old high school friend hands him blood-chilling evidence, Penn alone must beat the odds tracking a sophisticated killer who counters his every move, placing those nearest to him—including his young daughter, his renowned physician father, and a lover from the past—in grave danger, and all at the risk of jeopardizing forever the town he loves.

With his gift for crafting “a keep-you-engaged-to-the-very-last-page thriller” (USA Today) at full throttle, Greg Iles brings back Penn Cage, the sharply honed, unforgettable hero from his most popular novels, in this electrifying suspense masterpiece.

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Review

Praise for previous Greg Iles novels 'A scorching read' John Grisham 'An incredible web of intrigue and suspense' Clive Cussler 'My favourite kind of novel!Ambitious in its scope and superbly satisfying in its execution, this story resonates long after the final page is turned' Dan Brown 'One of America's top new crime writers' Observer 'Iles is a great thriller writer' Independent --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Greg Iles was born in 1960 in Germany. He founded the band Frankly Scarlet, plays guitar for the Rock Bottom Remainders, and is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including Blood Memory and 24 Hours. He lives in Natchez, Mississippi. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time." -- Luke 4:13 (NAS)

Many thrillers attempt to engage you by causing you to empathize with the hero or heroine who is being threatened with some horrible fate. The Devil's Punchbowl takes this technique to an extreme by successfully providing lots of good reasons to feel threatened if you empathize with any of a dozen characters in the book, each of whom is pushed to the edge of what anyone can expect to stand. Greg Iles takes that technique one step further by repeatedly providing hope of escape . . . before utterly wiping out the opportunity.

Before going further, let me caution you that this book contains more scenes involving disgusting forms of inhumanity to man and animals than I can remember among novels I've read in recent years. If one awful crime doesn't leave you feeling horrible, another one will. This book definitely disturbed my sleep . . . and it may do the same for you.

The story involves Penn Cage, who has appeared in two earlier novels, The Quiet Game and Turning Angel. In The Devil's Punchbowl, Cage is halfway through his first term as mayor of Natchez. He gave up being a novelist in hopes of reforming his old hometown through bringing white students back into the public schools. That hope hasn't been realized, and the major change he's brought about is aiding legalized gambling on riverboats. An old school friend, Tim Jessup, approaches Cage with the bad news that the riverboats have brought more than a new source of jobs and taxes . . . they've brought corruption of the worst kinds involving blood "sports" and prostitution involving underage girls. Tim promises to deliver the goods to nail the criminals, and Cage has to decide how to handle it all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely graphic March 14 2014
By Tez Miller TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Oy. THE DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL is hard reading, and not just because of its 550-page length. (Seriously, it's so physically awkward to hold open the book at times.)

Dog-fighting. It's not mentioned on the cover summary, but this is one of those things you really need to know beforehand. It's extremely graphic. DO NOT READ CHAPTER 31. I did, and I wish I hadn't. Just trust me on this. Nothing in that chapter happens plot-wise that isn't summarised later, so it's okay to skip.

The novel ends on a cliff-hanger, which I've heard is resolved in an e-novella, THE DEATH FACTORY. Which is annoying, because I still haven't found a DRM-free, non-geo-restricted, PayPal-welcome online bookstore that sells it. Grr...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, dark storyline Feb. 4 2010
By Brenda Pink TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Iles writes books filled with irony. Irony because his stories usually take place in Nachez, MS, where Iles lives. I don't know what the town has ever done to him, but the characters in his books can be violent and depraved. I'm not sure I ever want to visit Nachez! That being said, this book is a tough read. Not because it's not good, which it is, but because the story line is gritty, dark, violent and at times hopeless. The story revolves around the town mayor who stumbles across a criminal operation running off one of the floating gambling casinos in his town. When he starts to investigate, he realizes that the situation is worse than he can imagine. He can no longer trust anyone, and calls in some outside help. Then when his family is threatened and his girlfriend is kidnapped, the stakes have become higher. This book is not for the faint of heart. There are graphically described dog-fighting scenes, rape scenes and murder scenes throughout virtually the entire book. The book is well written. Character development is perfect and the storyline is woven with precision. This book is not for everyone. I usually read fast, but found myself having to put the book down after just reading a couple of chapters, to ease the turmoil in my mind. Then when the story was coming to a close, I couldn't get enough. Recommended for people that like thrillers and can handle the content.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Aug. 6 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
great read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  296 reviews
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping thriller from Iles, perhaps a bit too long July 20 2009
By Bill Garrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For many years, Greg Iles appealed to me as an author because each book was a totally unique experience. With THE DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL, Iles brings back crusading lawyer/writer/polician Penn Cage for his third appearance in a novel that tackles corruption in Natchez, the cost of doing the right thing, and the choices one must make. Although the story never draged, the novel seemed too long and the book lacked the typical internal struggles that have haunted the characters in other Iles novels.

Cage has been mayor for two years, and was instrumental in expanding the riverboat casino industry in the city. Cage is considering resigning to spend more time with his family when a childhood friend Tim Jessup tells Cage of some horrible evils and corruption occuring on one boat, the Magnolia Queen. Jessup offers evidence of prostitution and dog fighting and promises to get more if Cage is willing to help. Cage agrees, but Jessup is murdered the next night and then his entire family is threatened by the sauve Englishman Jonathan Sands. Sands wants the evidence Jessup took, or Cage's family could be in danger.

Cage is conflicted and doesn't know if he should fight Sands, or just look for the evidence, surrender it, and ignore Sands like every one else in the town. Of course, Cage decides to fight. He enlists the help of ex-girlfriend Caitlin Masters, who left town when he decided to run for mayor. He also has the services of Danny McDavvit, a pilot, Kelly, a ruthlessly efficient soldier, a ex-marine sniper and an old Texas Ranger. With his all star team in town to fight Sands, the action scenes are numerous and exciting.

The best parts of the book are the portrayal of the dog fighting culture. It is new and fresh and enlightening. Even at over 500 pages, the plot flows seamlessly. On the downside, the book went on forever. Cut out a few fights and you lose one hundred pages and still retain the power of the novel. In the author notes, Iles says he couldn't fit all he wanted into this novel, so look for another Penn Cage novel sometime next year.
64 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greg Iles returns to form July 8 2009
By mackattack9988 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I really enjoyed a couple of the earliest Greg Iles' novels (Spandau Phoenix, Quiet Game) and found them to be uniquely suspenseful with great complexity. While still good and better than a lot of other new fiction, the last few books were not quite as good as the earlier ones, in my opinion. Iles took his time completing this one, and it shows. I would much rather wait for a more finely-tuned yarn than to get a lesser product on schedule or in a shorter time. Devil's Punchbowl was worth the wait. Penn Cage is the best character Iles has crafted, and he's back in this novel. Greg Iles is a great storyteller, but what makes his best novels special is how the story is unfolded and shaped and how much extra depth there is besides just the plot. It's so much more than a mere whodunit that is the model for so many other popular authors. Looking forward to the next one - keep them coming!
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of this Novel July 27 2009
By T. Slaven - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I enjoyed this novel. However...

The heroes were too superheroic. When they gathered, it was not so much the Seven Samurai as it was the X-Men.

The bad guys were too unabashedly villainous. Black hats, black hearts, not much character complexity.

Violence and sadistic sex were too prevalent and too salacious.

The story is about second tier, legalized casino gambling on the Mississippi. Easy money attracts the scum of the earth, camouflaged within regulatory loop holes, bringing with them purveyors of money laundering, prostitution, and other illegal activities: most notably, in this story, dog fighting. Their power in a small community looking to slow its economic decline is absolutely corrupting. At the casino, the house always wins. The devotees are always in debt. And when that happens, the house owns you and it is just a matter of time before the master calls on you to pay up, never on the square.

Penn Cage, the town's idealistic mayor, is frustrated. He sought elective office to help rebuild and remake the town where he grew up. But politics keeps getting in the way of progress, and he's looking longingly toward the end of his term. He's also looking longingly at media mogulette Caitlin Masters, the one who got away. She still owns the house across the street from his, and she still drops into town from time to time to oversee her interests in the local newspaper. But she's moved on. Or has she?

Against this backdrop, a childhood friend whose path through life has hit the skids seeks out Penn's help - to save the town from corruption. It seems the floating pleasure palace is a façade for unspeakably nefarious activities, and he has the goods on the evil doers. If only he can smuggle the evidence off the boat, things could be put right and he could earn redemption from a tragedy he caused long-ago. But the simple course is fraught with peril. Deaths occur, threats are made, vengeance is sought, and Penn is faced with a moral dilemma: save the town, or save those he loves?

A lot of storytelling capital is spent tying the activities in this sleepy Southern town to globalized crime syndicates. I'm not sure that's necessary, and I'm not sure it rings true. Purely local bad guys probably would have sufficed and fit better within the texture of the story. Exotic war dogs also stretch credulity. Michael Vick has raised the profile of this sinister, illegal blood sport to the point where upping the dramatic ante really isn't required.

As probably is apparent, I liked this story less than the two Penn Cage novels that preceded it: The Quiet Game and Turning Angel. Those, I think, were masterworks. The Devil's Punchbowl is well-conceived, but with some shortcomings in execution. Iles has promised another Penn Cage novel soon to follow. Let's hope it doesn't just tie up loose ends, but elevates the standard in a way that this book failed to accomplish.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greg Iles has the magic back July 21 2009
By ellen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As many know, I am an uber Greg Iles fan. Have been since book one - although my favorites are Mortal Fear, and The Quiet Game.
For those of you not familiar with Penn Cage, his kith and kin, it would be good to read The Quiet Game, which holds one of my favorite quotes ever, told by a former FBI agent Stone, "The hour of justice does not strike on the dials of this world."
This outing Iles is back in his element, the old south dealing with the new. Now there are offshore gambling boats and the money and corruption that comes with that -
Time has passed and Caitlin and Penn have gone their separate ways, and he has also broken up with another lady - Annie, his daughter, has grown into a well adjusted pre-teen, thanks to Penn's parents.
Penn's boyhood friend, Tim Jessup, a card dealer at the Magnolia Queen, has uncovered horrible things going on - not only prostitution, but dogfighting off grounds.
For those of you who haven't been familiar with dogfighting, those of us in the south who have dealt with hearing about Michael Vick's involvement however extensive, with a dogfighting ring, the horrid 'sport' is heavily written about and a large part of this book. I was sickened by the extent, but Iles shows us it is beyond any thriller book author can possibly imagine, more cruel than anyone could think up - all in the cause of money.
This is not for the feint of heart.
When Penn's friend Tim is murdered, Penn had been waffling between quitting his mayorship of Natchez and leaving, but when his friend's death happens, he goes forth full steam.
Caitlin Masters, his old girlfriend, returns and we see the transition between them being estranged to working together for a common goal, to her opinion - it's just dogfighting, to a more violent awakening that the folks who do this aren't just folks providing entertainment.
Iles brings back the excitement of characterization, the beauty of the landscape, the horror of corruption.
This is who I call our generation's Faulkner.
It is a long book, and can be a stand alone book, but it is the third of the Penn Cage books, with at least one more coming -
But if you want to read the magic that introduces Penn, get The Quiet Game, and go from there.
Iles is a truly talented author and a worthy read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Punchbowl Holds a Fine Brew! Aug. 21 2009
By John R. Linnell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"I just finished THE DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL by Greg Iles and found it to be the best read I have had in a very long time."

So read the E-Mail from a good friend who often shares opinions on books with me and who's views on books I value. Luckily for me I did not have to wait long to start the book as it was already on my "To Read" table, as Isles is an author I keep tabs on.

This is his third novel featuring Penn Cage and given the end of the novel, it seems pretty clear it will not be the last. The story line is well set out by others, but what is more elusive to describe is the haunting way that Iles draws you into the life of his characters and holds your interest as events unfold. I once thought that Jeffrey Deaver probably has the best imagination for conjuring up evil, but I have to tell you that Iles is definitely a contender after this effort. Jonathan Sands and Seamus Quinn are more than a handful for Cage and the small cadre he assembles to get to the bottom of activities which are taking place on the floating casino, The Magnolia Queen.

I have only passed through Missisippi in my travels about the US, but after reading the Penn Cage novels, I feel as though I have spent a lot of time in Natchez.

If this book has any weakness, it does seem a tad long, but even that small complaint could not deprive it of the five stars I believe the exceptional writing clearly deserves.
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