Read The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles Online

the-devil-s-punchbowl

The shocking new thriller from the king of southern gothic.When he was a prosecuting attorney Penn Cage sent hardened killers to death row. But it is as mayor of his hometown - Natchez, Mississippi - that Penn will face his most dangerous threat.Urged by old friends to restore the town to its former glory, Penn has ridden into office on a tide of support for change. But inThe shocking new thriller from the king of southern gothic.When he was a prosecuting attorney Penn Cage sent hardened killers to death row. But it is as mayor of his hometown - Natchez, Mississippi - that Penn will face his most dangerous threat.Urged by old friends to restore the town to its former glory, Penn has ridden into office on a tide of support for change. But in its quest for new jobs and fresh money, Natchez has turned to casino gambling. Five fantastical steamboats float on the river beside the old slave market like props from Gone With the Wind. But one boat isn't like the others. Rumour has it that the Magnolia Queen has found a way to pull the big players from Las Vegas. And with them comes an unquenchable taste for one thing: blood sport, and the dark vices that go with it.When a childhood friend of Penn's who brings him evidence of these crimes is brutally murdered, the full weight of Penn's failure to protect this city hits home. So begins his quest to find the men responsible. But it's a hunt he begins alone, for the local authorities have been corrupted by the money and power of his hidden enemy. With his family's life at stake, Penn realizes his only allies in his one-man war are those bound to him by blood or honour....

Title : The Devil's Punchbowl
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 11380074
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 594 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Devil's Punchbowl Reviews

  • Edward Lorn
    2019-06-27 01:12

    I've written this review three different ways: satirically, derisively, and in the style which you are about to read. There are numerous reviews for this book wherein the reviewer flat out lies about the content for whatever reason. I wanted to focus on the dishonest nature of these reviews, but that would be break my own code of conduct. They are not my reviews. These other reviews are those reviewers' subjective opinions, even if they are utter bullshit. Suffice it to say, most of the negative reviews for this book are erroneous to the point that I feel the reviewers should be ashamed at the level of fabrication to which they stooped. In the end, I asked myself, "Do you really care what a group of dishonest attention whores thinks?" The answer is yes and no. I find it sad beyond belief that someone would feel the need to lie in an attempt to keep people away from this terrific, challenging novel, mainly because more people should read it. But I don't give a squirt of piss for their asinine comments, because I can say with the utmost confidence that they either a) did not actually read the book, or b) projected their own suspect morals to the thematic elements herein. The Devil's Punchbowl has one of the most evil, reprehensible villains I've come across in a long time. I read this book back in December and Julian Sands has stayed with me ever since. In this, the third Penn Cage novel, Iles ramps up both the action and the uncomfortable subject matter. You will bear witness to a single dogfight, the aftermath of a different dogfight, and brief descriptions of child pornography and abuse. While the subject of dogfighting is prevalent throughout the book, this book is not full of dogfights, as some reviewers will have you believe. The characters in this book are not flippant when it comes to the treatment of animals. Penn Cage and everyone else who comes across the tragedy of this inhumane "sport" are shaken to their core by the cruelty exhibited. Only the villains enjoy the "sport", and the one good guy who is nonchalant about watching the single dogfight in this book is nonchalant because he is undercover, and if he breaks that cover, the bad guys will kill him. Let me be perfectly clear on this one point: There are absolutely not multiple dogfights in this novel. Anyone who says there is more than one is lying. Still, I understand that, to some, one dogfight is one dogfight too many. I respect that and understand. But I believe that ignoring this book based on a few paragraphs in one chapter would be to do yourself a great disservice. If you are someone who appreciates affecting fiction, this book delivers time and time again. To write off this novel as a book about dogfighting is to call The Color Purple a movie about shaving. The reason I appreciate Iles as much as I do is because he deals in themes. The first Penn Cage book dealt with racism, and the second was about the age of consent. This novel is about doing the right thing no matter how difficult it may seem. It's about not quitting. About being the better person. Iles manages to discuss these themes while entertaining his reader. The book is the perfect length based on the content you receive. It is a long book in page count only. Its 700 pages fly by with ease, and I found myself sad to see it draw to a close. Plenty of bang for your buck. And lastly, I definitely appreciated the damsel in distress saving herself.In summation: This is easily my favorite book in the series thus far, and it saddens me to see people lying about and/or exaggerating its contents. The novel is affecting, but it is not flippant in its discussion of sensitive issues. The bad guys get everything they deserve and then some. I was more than pleased with how they were dealt with. My highest possible recommendation.Final Judgment: Powerful fiction disguised as your average thriller.

  • Marie
    2019-05-31 02:00

    Although a huge fan of Greg Iles, and especially enjoying the previous novels with the character of Penn Cage, had I known this book was about dogfighting I would never have bothered to pick it up. I found this book to be disturbing, disgusting and stomach churning. I had to skim over several passages because I knew if I had read them, these invoked images would have haunted me for a very long time. An avid animal lover, I just found this subject far to revolting to ever be able to consider it entertainment in any way, shape or form. The characters in the book barely had their feathers ruffled either when confronted by this disgusting "sport" and I found that to be equally disturbing. Definitely not for me. I am not sure I will ever be looking forward to a new release from Greg Iles again.

  • Tricia-Lynn Harter
    2019-06-17 07:12

    I could not put this book down. I enjoyed everything about the story, however did become frustrated with Penn Cage. Truly a recommended read for a Vick supporter. Read the dog fighting scenes, the logic and true character of a person who actually makes it part of their overall moral character and it truly will change, IMHO, your belief in "he's done his time and all is forgiven policy," when it comes to the brutailty that Vick obviously has deep within his gene pool. All is not forgiven or forgotten and a bag of dog food donated for any action taken by Vick on the football field is a slap in the face (or should I say a bat to the head) to all of the millions of dogs that face the cruelty that people like Vick believe is acceptable and "normal" behavior.For this reason alone, this book is a recommended read just to WAKE UP people to what you probably do not really know happened and the press is so obviously not going to tell the WHOLE TRUTH about the brutaility of Vick's actions.

  • James Thane
    2019-05-29 06:18

    Former Houston prosecutor Penn Cage is now the disillusioned mayor of his home town, Natchez, Mississippi. Cage never failed at anything in his life until now, and he took the office promising to bridge the divisions in the town which is losing jobs along with its best and brightest young people who are moving away in search of better opportunities elsewhere. Penn hoped to put Natchez on the track to a better future by reinvigorating the public education system and encouraging white parents who have fled the public schools to return their children to the public schools so that black and white students would be educated together, thus building the base of a new and better city.Sadly, the problem has proven to be much more difficult and intractable than Penn imagined and his one accomplishment has been to clear the way for a luxurious new gambling boat, the Magnolia Queen, to come to town. The boat has generated jobs and badly needed revenue for the ailing city. But then Tim Jessup, one of Penn's childhood friends who works aboard the Queen shows Penn evidence suggesting that the gambling aboard the boat is a cover for sinister and repellant activities.Shortly thereafter, Jessup is murdered and Penn finds himself locked in mortal combat with two hardcore villains who are determined to protect the gambling boat's secrets and their own fortunes. They will stop at nothing to do so, including threatening Penn's daughter, mother and father to make him back off and surrender the evidence they believe Jessup has given to Penn.In this middle of all of this, Penn's old lover, Caitlin Masters, returns to Natchez, complicating both the widowed Penn's life and the complex problems he now faces. Not surprisingly, Cage refuses to roll over and surrender to the evil that threatens to envelope his city. The result is a roller coaster ride, with lots of unexpected twists and turns. Iles is a master of the psychological suspense novel and The Devil's Punchbowl is an excellent example of his work.A word of warning: This engrossing book is not for the faint of heart. It contains a considerable amount of very graphic violence directed both against human beings and animals.

  • Thomas Edmund
    2019-05-29 06:02

    First of all I almost put the rating down to two stars, because while Punchbowl isn't is bad as some books I've read, it's 550 page length was extra-painful to get through. Whats wrong with The Devil's Punchbowl? It suffers from a severe case of average-ness and a major overdose of waffling. For at least the first 100 pages we're blugoened with the daily life and thoughts of Penn Cage, town mayor (IMO mayor's of small town don't make compelling protaganists) The plot is neither melodramatic enough (hey I don't like dog fighting or prostitution either but it doesn't exactly get me involved in the story) or compelling to really propel the book forwards. This is made worse by the awkward narration which is first person present tense for most chapters then randomly third person past tense (what you'll find most books written in) ALL in italics. This is most annyoing because it makes the third party chapter seem like either dream sequences or with forced importance. If that isn't bad enough for you occasionally one third person character breaks into first person perspective. At the end Iles claims all mistakes are his, which suggests some fore-knowledge, perhaps there was some stress or something in the author's life. In which case I sympathise, however it doesn't make a bad book good. There is nothing in the plot that justifies 550 pages, most of the action is done by the minor characters, as the main guy is an impotent politician (and I realise that it is realistic for a politician to use their networks to solve problems it just doesn't make good fiction) the most compelling characters are killed off early or don't get any screen time and the bad guys just blend into bland henchmen. I think this book is worth missing, spend the time doing something more productive

  • John DeDakis
    2019-06-05 07:01

    I REALLY like the way this guy writes. He grabs my attention from page one and makes me keep wanting to turn pages. His characters are believable and well textured. His settings are vivid. His plotting is intricate. Each paragraph flows logically from the previous one and the writing is straightforward, not pretentious. I've only read a few of his books, beginning wth "Turning Angel," but I want to read more because he hasn't disappointed me yet.

  • Steven Z.
    2019-05-30 09:10

    Greg Iles’ THE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL is the third installment of his Penn Cage novels. The first two combined suspense, mystery, and insights into the human condition and the depravity of some. Iles’ latest continues that trend as Cage, a former Houston prosecutor who returned home to Natchez, MS to raise his daughter Annie after his wife passed away from cancer. Cage turned to writing and became a successful novelist, but local demands saw him become involved in a major civil rights case, a twisted drug case, and of course a murder investigation. After witnessing how his hometown had deteriorated he decided to run for mayor and defeated his arch enemy Shad Johnson the sitting District Attorney. Cage’s hope was to resurrect the city he loves, but after two years in his term he concluded that reforming education and municipal corruption was beyond his power. His idealism faded as the political reality set in. The novel opens as Cage meets with an old school friend, Tim Jessup, a recovering drug addict who was working at one of the floating casinos, the Magnolia Queen. They meet late at night in the town cemetery where Jessup discloses that the casino operators are involved with a number of illegal activities ranging from dog fights, prostitution of underage girls, money laundering, and tax fraud. This knowledge heightens Cage’s disgust and vows to resign his office. However, when Jessup turns up dead and his house has been trashed he realizes that he is up against an organization that will kill anyone that gets in the way of their activities.Cage knows he is up against something or someone that he has few resources of which to confront. He is uncertain who on the Natchez city police or the county police he can trust. He turns to his father, Dr. Tom Cage, and a group of paramilitary types led by Don Kelly, an ex-special forces operative in the Marines as well as his cohorts to save his family and pursue justice. Dr. Cage also brings in Walt Garrity, a former soldier and Texas Ranger, that he had fought with during the Korean War to assist his son. Cage also has worked with Danny Kelly, a former army special ops in Afghanistan who brings his Blackwater type organization with him to assist the mayor of Natchez since he cannot trust his own law enforcement apparatus. The reader enters the casino world with its ancillary activities of money laundering, dog fighting, and political control, and if anyone threatens their agenda they seem to disappear if they stand in the way of what they are trying to achieve. People like Seamus Quinn and his boss Jonathan Sanders are the epitome of ruthless operatives of which Cage must contend. Included in this menagerie of criminals is Edward Po a Chinese corporate type who seems to be in charge, but is also a target of the Department of Homeland Security as represented by Special Agent William Hull. Ile’s has strong opinions of the plight of the southern gulf coast and those individuals and groups, be it Asian or American who threaten to destroy his tranquil southern lifestyle. Ile’s is also concerned about the educational bureaucracy that exists in his home state of Mississippi and its negative effects on the state’s future. As Cage tries to deal with the situation characters from his previous books reemerge, i.e. Caitlin Masters the newspaper publisher and a woman he lived with for five years; Police Chief Don Logan, and the network of individuals that Cage worked with when he was a prosecutor in Houston.One aspect that Iles’ introduces in his writing is the history of Natchez over the last century and how it impacts the current situation. It gives the reader insights into southern culture and the accepted way of doing things. For Penn Cage his frustration with the existing American legal system is something he is about to give up on. The book also provides a window to international organized crime, particularly the Chinese variety and the strategies employed by the American justice system. This is the third book in the Penn Cage series and is by far the best one. Ile’s has the ability to grab the reader’s attention from the outset, and if you decide to read any of his work make sure you have set aside enough time for the task because once you become involved in the plot line it will be very difficult to put the book down.

  • Robyn
    2019-06-16 07:14

    Grossly disappointed in this latest from Iles. I usually enjoy his books about character, Penn Cage. But this one did not work for me. Mainly, I think I was unable to suspend belief in common sense long enough to appreciate the plot. Case in point, most of Iles' books about Penn Cage feature a character named Daniel Kelly, a former Delta commando now working as a private security contractor. Kelly is tough, former military, and amazing well-connected. He acts as a "go to" guy who helps Cage out of many-a-pickle. His role as "deus ex machina" however is wearing a little thin. Yes, men like Kelly do exist, but it's just too annoyingly convenient that Cage always gets into so much trouble that he has to call in Kelly to help. I think this novel would have been a lot more interesting had such an aid not been available. My second issue with this novel is that it was just too long. Iles threw up a few too many twists and turns. The denoument went on forever! Easily could have cut 100 pages and still been an okay read.Finally, I take a big issue with an oft-used authorial device regarding point of view. Most of the novel is told in first person, from Penn's point of view. Many chapters, however, are written in third person, from the POV of secondary characters. And in case the reader can't figure out that those changes have a different POV, the text is printed in italics. First, italicized writing can be difficult to read and several pages of it is simply annoying. More importantly, however, is why switch to third person in the first place. If an author choose to use the first person POV, then I feel said author should accept the narrative limitations that POV necessitates. The first person narrator is not going to know what third party characters are doing "off stage." So if you, as an author, want to add "off stage" details, especially to advance the story, then don't write in first person in the first place!

  • Arnis
    2019-06-22 05:14

    https://poseidons99.wordpress.com/201...

  • Kellie
    2019-06-14 09:03

    Again, Greg Iles did not disappoint. There is something about these books that make you want to keep reading. I really like the character, Penn Cage. He is strong, moral and doesn't take crap from anyone. He's a fighter.The major themes of this book...gambling, dog fighting, foreign immunity, prostitution, education, racism, living in the south.The plot is focused around the gambling boats on the Mississippi and the underground activities that occur in and around these boats that attract not only the general population but celebrities and people who have a lot of money to spend. A old highschool friend engages Penn (who is now the mayor of the town) in exposing the underground illegal actives around these boats. Tim has had his share of bouts with the law (drugs) but has come clean and wants to expose the evils behind the gambling industry that dock within the city limits. The men he wants to expose are extremely dangerous and Penn needs to pull in reinforcements to help deal with these evil men.I really enjoy these books. I don't think I've ever read a bad one.

  • Book Concierge
    2019-06-16 04:52

    Playaway Audio book read by Dick HillBook three in the Penn Cage series finds our hero settled in as mayor of his hometown – Natchez Mississippi. Still he cannot help but keep certain ways of thinking that served him well as a prosecuting attorney in big-city Houston Texas. Like many other towns eager for jobs and an infusion of cash into their economies, Natchez has turned to casino gambling, and five “steamboats” float on the Mississippi River attracting tourists and locals alike. But the Magnolia Queen seems set apart. Somehow she brings in the big gamblers who arrive in private jets for special games of chance; and crime comes with these big dollars. When a childhood friend of Penn’s makes arrangements to meet at the cemetery with a promise of evidence of the criminal activity, things get nasty quickly. Corruption has spread throughout all official channels and Penn can trust only those closest to him.I’d never read a book by Iles before and wasn’t sure what to expect (other than a fast-paced thriller). I didn’t realize when I picked it up that this was book three in a series, but I’m not sure I missed much by not having read the previous books. Iles gave me enough background on the central characters and their relationships to Penn to make me comfortable. This is less of a murder mystery than it is a grand international conspiracy with “national security” interests trying to stop Penn from his own investigation. Iles peoples the book with colorful characters, including an ex-Texas Ranger gone undercover, a mysterious beautiful Chinese woman, and an evangelical preacher with a secret vice. I thought the plot got overly complicated, but the action still moved at a fairly quick pace and I was sufficiently interested to keep turning pages. I did find the book pretty violent – dog fighting is part of the plot and Iles spares no details of that bloody “sport.” One of the bad guys is also a sexual sadist and descriptions of his deeds left little to the imagination. Neither of these elements was more than what was necessary given the plot, but readers who find this kind of thing particularly distasteful are best warned away. Dick Hill did a credible job with the audio though his voice tends to be too gravelly to convincingly voice the women characters. Still his ability with various accents, especially when he’s required to switch quickly from a cultured British accent to a Texas Ranger’s twang to an Irish brogue, really added to the enjoyment of the audio.

  • Beth
    2019-05-28 06:50

    Although I already have 40-some books in my wishlist, I now have to add at least one, maybe five, more. I like this book a lot.THE DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL is my first Greg Iles book, which is the third in a series about the Penn Cage character. While Iles is good about supplying background information, so a reader can start these books out of order, THE DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL ends on a cliffhanger. Now I want to read the next and maybe the next and the next (still to be published) in the series.In this book, Cage is the mayor of Natchez, Mississippi. A casino there, which he had hoped would help revive Natchez's faltering economy, is owned by a corrupt Irishman who is bilking Natchez out of tax money, running dog-fighting rings, and supplying his customers (and himself) with prostitutes. Cage gets wind of it when his old friend, who had worked as a dealer in the casino, is murdered, and the murder is apparently tied to the casino.A couple parts of this book (descriptions of dogs and rape scenes) were hard for me to read; they were too graphic for me. But you can skim those if they bother you, too, and not lose track of the story. One other criticism has to do with two of the other characters: Cage's friend Daniel Kelly (note Iles' use of a good-guy Irish-American to balance the bad-guy Irishman) and girlfriend Caitlin Masters. They seemed superhuman to me, especially Kelly. He was a Bruce-Willis-type character. She could kick off a tin roof with her bare feet after she walked up a wall and while she was upside down. They are both a little too amazing.Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more by Greg Iles.

  • Alan
    2019-05-27 02:08

    There were a few reasons why I did not enjoy this installment in the Penn Cage series as much as The Turning Angel. Part of the problem was that while Dick Hill was an excellent reader in The Turning Angel, and here his voice kept fading out at various parts of the story, usually when he was reading Penn's role. Another factor was that I enjoyed the shades of gray presented by the characters in The Turning Angel, whereas here the situation was much more black and white.Penn has won the special election talked about in the prior book, and he has been mayor for two years. His becoming mayor caused a split in his relationship with journalist Caitlin. Now, Natchez is is still a city struggling to survive. The influx of gambling boats on the river has greatly increased the funds pouring into the city's coffers.Tim Jessup, and old boyhood friend of Penn's contacts the mayor to let him know horrible crimes on being committed on one boat in particular. Penn's failure to act quickly enough arguably leads to Tim's death.From there the listener follows a complicated, but interesting trail into money laundering, corruption, and illegal dog fighting. Jonathan Sands, the man who runs the boat is evil, as is his right hand man Quinn and there is no doubt about that. The doubt comes in how will Penn solve the trouble he finds himself in with these extremely violent people.A good, but not great, listen. I would recommend The Turning Angel as a superior audiobook over this installment in the series.

  • Barbara
    2019-06-27 03:17

    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and the suspense that Iles builds throughout the book; it is extremely hard to put down. The violence can be very graphic, but seemed to be a part of the story, not just gratuitously thrown in. Below is a brief summary of events.A former prosecuting attorney, Penn Cage is the mayor of his hometown -- Natchez, Mississippi. Urged by old friends to try to restore this city of the Old South to its former glory, Penn has taken office with strong support from the townspeople for change. But in its quest for new jobs and fresh money, Natchez, like other Mississippi towns, has turned to casino gambling, and now five steamboats float on the river beside the old slave market at Natchez,One of the boats is very different from the others.Rumor has it that the Magnolia Queen has found a way to pull the big players from Las Vegas to its Mississippi backwater. And with them, arriving on sleek private jets,come pro football players, rap stars, and international gamblers, all sharing a taste for blood sport and other dark vices. When a childhood friend of Penn's brings him evidence of these crimes, the full weight of Penn's failure to protect his city hits home. He begins searching for the men involved. But it's a hunt he begins alone, for the local authorities have been corrupted by the money and power of his hidden enemy. With his family's lives at stake, Penn realizes his only allies in his one-man war are those who are family or those bound to him by honor.

  • Richard
    2019-06-04 05:53

    Greg Iles takes us back to Natchez, MS for a tale about total evil infecting the city from a new riverboat casino. Using common stereotypes of the US South to great effect, parts of this book are so disturbing it is hard to read...that is, hard not to skip over the violence and depravity.This time, our hero, Penn Cage is the Mayor at the midpoint of his term and questioning the wisdom of staying in office, Natchez, or even the South. How his team defends the virtue, and lives of the populace of his city makes an exciting, action packed story.I wonder, though, if the graphic cruelty thoroughly described in these pages is because of readers' insatiable demand for more, or if it originates with the publisher and/or the author attempting to keep up.Mr. Iles creates a powerful polemic against gambling and all the vices attendant to it. This book covers everything from sex slavery to dogs fighting bears, boars, men and each other. Also included in our list are, of course, drugs, illegal gambling, theft, extortion, kidnap,torture, murder, rape, and any other crime against humanity you can think of.As if the rednecks aren't enough to get upset over, we have IRA thugs and the unseen criminal mastermind from mainland China against the forces of justice.I mostly liked the story. It could make an exciting movie, but there would have to be massive editing, deleting many marginal characters.

  • Tez
    2019-06-06 08:55

    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...

  • Trudi
    2019-06-22 00:59

    The only reason I read this one was that I ran out of books when I was in Turkey on vacation. One of the other travelers had finished with it and passed it on to me. In need of SERIOUS editing. It goes on and on in excruciating detail about awful things - dog fighting, rape, etc. Concentrates on the evil-doings of a group of men associated with a gambling barge moored in the Mississippi. Yuck!

  • Skip
    2019-05-31 01:12

    Another Greg Iles thriller, starring Penn Cage as mayor of Natchez battling a sociopath manager of a riverfront gambling house, drawing in characters from other Iles novels. Suspenseful and well written although I think Iles' use of italics when Cage is not narrating is truly unnecessary.

  • Christopher Bowron
    2019-06-02 04:53

    Took me a while as I was busy. I really enjoyed the characters and how the bad guys were built up. Good story and I loved the southern feel.

  • Linda
    2019-06-04 01:09

    Another can't put down book from Greg Iles.

  • David
    2019-06-09 06:12

    This is the first time I have read anything by this author. I have to say he uses some neat metaphors and writes a thriller which moves well and has some of the great twists and turns. The cover of this one fooled me. The cover shows some dice with an odd image on it, and I expected it would turn into some sort of an Indiana Jones expedition. I was shocked when it remained a normal thriller dealing with really bad guys and extreme violence, in this case the Devil's punchbowl was a reference to the name of a saloon on board a gambling barge based in Natchez Mississippi. The hero, Penn Cage, is the mayor of Natchez, Mississippi. A childhood friend comes to him in secret and reveals scandalous behavior relaed to the gambling industy (shocker!) From there the story builds up a full head of steam and drives forward into extreme violence and danger. It turns out to be a decent quality thriller with a fairly satisfying conclusion, except for that tangential cliffhanger on the final page of the novel. Okay.. that was just plain stupid and gave me the impetus to downgrade my rating. Another drawback, for me, was the constant switching of points of view that was signalled by the usage of italics for complete chapters which described action or scenes that Penn, the hero, was not involved in... The italicized font was really ridiculous and silly as any intelligent reader could see that the point of view was being switched. This helped the downgrade as well.I also hate the feeling that I came in the middle of a series. For example, even though I started in the middle of the REACHER series by Lee Child, I never felt like I missed part of the story. I read most of them out of order and it was never a problem. Yet Isles tries to bring his readers up to date with this character and his many loves, etc. It was not done in a manner that made me feel brought up to date, but rather that I was missing something.I didn't care for the mercenaries that Penn managed to bring in. Why would the mayor of a small town (though a former prosecutor, elsewhere) have access to these guys? The author shows us that the hero has a history with these guys, but I could never comprehend the real bond between them. Then, there was a chapter where the author sought to educate us about the economic inequality of the south and how the economic lines follow racial lines and offers his own solutions. This is done in a chapter where Penn suggests he is going to resign because he has not accomplished his political goals. I tend to like it when an author uses a fiction story as a bully pulpit to make a point about social issues, but in this case, that particular scene fell flat on its face. It came across like an old episode of Quincy, where the coroner would preach about one of society's ills, interfering with the main story. That's exactly what happened.. That chapter was missing the hissing sound of the air brakes on a bus or a big truck, because it suddenly slowed the story down to a standstill much like a bus stopping at a railroad crossing.Once the story got moving forward again, it picked up and was much more satisfying. But it had to get moving again.Overall, a decent, well written book, with a few flaws.

  • Charles
    2019-05-31 07:00

    This is a difficult book to read, not because of the authors writing, but rather because of the themes and subtexts that are the core of the story. Unspeakable horror and pain are inflicted for no more reason than inflicting pain for the sake of pain and satisfying a blood lust for purposes of “entertainment”. The pain and horror comes in many shades in this book - tortured painful rape, murder without feeling or conscience and disguised as “sport”. The basest human depravities are displayed front and center and Mr. Iles reminds us that all of humankind is a guilty participant here. The types of cruelties here cross all social and ethnic lines. There are those among us regardless of nationality, race or social standing that are capable of descending to the darkest depths that only man is capable of committing. The comparisons to Michael Vicks are obvious and front and center in your mind as you rip through this story. Society, government and our legal system are all on trial her. Through the pictures and story telling of Mr. Iles we are reminded that our system is far from perfect and just and at times lacking in sufficient punishment to fir the crime.As difficult as the subject matters are it’s the skill of the author that keeps you from crossing over that invisible threshold from shock and dismay to disgust. In the hands of lesser authors the story would have been rendered from a mystery thriller to a graphic nausea. You know early on who the bad guys but your hate and hope for a “one bullet” solution builds as you get to know them throughout the whole of the story. While I’m a big Greg Iles fan I wouldn’t rate this as his best book. The Quiet Game was a much better book. There are a couple of weaknesses here in that the ending is no big surprise – the good guys win out, the heroes and heroines and ensure the continuation of the series. At over 700 hundred pages there are characters introduced that really don’t add to the story, times where situations are revisited from the eyes of different characters and there is a lot of self introspection that seem to take up unnecessary real estate.With all that said I found myself reluctantly putting the book down only in order to get a couple hours sleep before getting up for work.

  • Cara St.Hilaire
    2019-06-14 09:03

    This book actually doesn't grab you from the first page. It lifts its fingers and slowly motions for you to come closer. Once you have gotten to the last sentences in Chapter 1, you are in deep and there is no return as you experience all of the gritty, testosterone driven atrocities that can be put in one book. I read this book voraciously--I stayed up way too late, I ate with my fork in one hand and book in the other, and found myself even reading a few lines while at traffic lights. It was so intense that I found myself squirming in my seat with anxiety. One reviewer mentioned that it is too long and to some extent, I might agree with that a little. However, I wouldn't change a thing because the writing contains details that set the characters, locations, and moods so perfectly. The author wasn't afraid to use raw language to depict just how monstrous and criminal the "bad" guys were. He wasn't afraid to write about things that are completely horrific without sugar coating them. If his book were a movie - you'd see every last uncomfortable detail rather than cut to a different scene to ease the viewer. The main character is captivating because he is a small town guy that just wants to be surrounded by peace but can't ever find it because Iles puts him smack in the middle of all that is dark in Natchez. The book is a race through time while Penn protects his family and loved ones while trying to bring down an evil empire that he accidentally helped succeed. The most disturbing thing to me was the dog fighting. I am an animal lovin' vegetarian and as soon as it started getting into that (and facing the realization that this stuff really happens), I had a hard time with it. The fact that the characters were so opposed to this brutality (risked their lives for it, in fact) did help, but it didn't take some of the graphic images out of my mind (and they lingered for days). If you love suspense, it really doesn't get any better than this. You must read this book.

  • Denise
    2019-06-25 08:13

    3.5 of 5 starsThis third Penn Cage novel went on a bit too long. By the end, I decided that I really didn't like any of the main characters and I was tired of the story. Penn, formerly a DA and author, and now the ersatz mayor of Natchez, Mississippi -- his childhood home -- and Caitlin Masters, his former girlfriend reporter who has returned home for unknown reasons, team up again in a sordid story of gambling, prostitution, dog fighting and corruption at the riverboat casinos.Penn has to call on his black op friends to protect his family and to help him figure out why his old friend Tim Jessup was murdered. Tim, trying to change his burnt out druggie reputation, has come upon some evidence of illegal activity that he brings to Penn. Before he can get the evidence to Penn, the evil Magnolia Queen boat owner/operators Sands and Quinn (Irish ex pats) take him out. In a race against time, Penn Cage joins up with a couple of elite special forces men, and a former Texas Ranger, in a somewhat unbelievable pursuit of justice and the saving of his town.I really liked the previous two novels in this series, The Quiet Game and Turning Angel, but this one just didn't hit the same spot for me. The bad guys were over-the-top evil and Penn almost hit sainthood. I know fans of Greg Iles' novels will buy this one, but I hope that his next in the series will be an improvement.

  • Deborah
    2019-05-30 03:15

    I really like how the author writes. The characters and background story are a real page turner.The dog-fighting aspect was pretty upsetting but I got some insight into how this is done illegally. It takes a special type of person to go in there and break up this activity because it attracts a certain type of crowd and involves the exchange of money. I love animals, but bearing my head in the sand and not understanding some aspects of how things like this happen wouldnt help the situation. I love animals and to realise that like this still happens in any part of the world is deeply saddening.The other illegal activities of human trafficking and money laundering are also included in the story and go to show you how collusion for whatever reason, - i.e participating, money, as a means to an end - can cause crimes to happen and circumvent the law. These are ongoing problems.It characters also make you realise that for every bad person out there, there are several of good character, ready to do the right thing, even at possible harm to themselves.That why the say that "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" It was a great story and I although at times I found it difficult to read because of the subject matter, I am glad I read it. I have learnt something "new" and to see things from a different perspective.

  • John Matsui
    2019-05-29 06:00

    Greg Iles' Penn Cage series is hard work for this reader, not because it's difficult to follow but because of the emotional toll it takes on me. When I reach into the shadows for one of Iles' dark fixes, inevitably I get more than I bargained for. Like my last rollercoaster ride, midway in the book I had to remind myself I willingly stepped aboard. That holds doubly true with The Devil's Punchbowl, a tale that sends Cage back to hometown, Natchez, Mississippi to serve as its mayor.One moment, I'm awash with the imagery, the excitement of the moment, and the hope inspired by Cage and his loved ones. A page later I'm sickened by the depravity of some of the blackest hearts in literature. Iles shows us no mercy when he sets his villains loose. Cage's troubles start when he helps win approval for a riverboat casino at Natchez in a desperate bid to stave off the town's economic death. When an old friend reveals there's a lot more under the gleaming surface of the casino than the usual seediness and gambling addictions, the mayor is instantly sucked into righting a wrong he helped create.When the bodies start to drop in the most horrific ways imaginable, Cage and his off-again, on-again lover, crusading journalist Caitlin Masters, find themselves hopelessly outgunned by people who play for keeps. Another great read.

  • Scott
    2019-06-27 06:01

    These Penn Cage novels by Greg Iles are a guilty pleasure for me. As with his other novels, this one is a real page-turner, and as much as I have some misgivings about his books, he is still compulsively readable for me. He does tell an exciting story, to be sure.This is another story where the bad guys are all of the non-Southern good-old-boy characters. At least in this one the protagonists are not spending their time obsessing over 17-year old girls (as in his previous book). Cage, ex-Assistant District Attorney and ex-author, is now the mayor of his hometown Natchez. In an attempt to jump start the stagnant local economy mayor Cage turns to the floating casinos that dot the Mississippi River in other locales. But with that association comes sinister characters and activities.One of Penn's childhood friends uncovers nefarious doings at one of the casinos, and turns to his old friend the mayor for help. Penn, along with several other characters from previous novels, fight the bad guys with the future of Natchez and also their families and loved ones at stake. As with the other books, there are crazy things happening all over the place, and it kept me reading late at night. Fun stuff, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

  • Barbara M
    2019-06-05 03:55

    Greg Iles delivers his usual novel packed with bad guys and good. This is the continuing series that includes Penn Cage and is set in Natchez MS. Penn is no longer a practicing attorney having turned his talents to writing novels. He has also been Mayor of Natchez for the past 2 years and is disappointed at how slowly things go as he tries to make the positive changes he promised in his campaign. The only thing that is bringing any prosperity to the city are the gambling boats.Turns out that's not the only thing that one boat in particular is bringing to town. The potential whistle blower is Penn's childhood friend Tim who had gone a bit bad with drugs, but who is supposed to be clean now. Penn has some doubts but things go very tense when he hears what Tim has to say. How can this be and how can it be fixed. The owner's of the Magnolia Queen put Penn in a very difficult spot and the story is tense all the way through. Typical of Iles, the book is quite descriptive and, though I can read this, it isn't anything I could possible watch in a movie! There is violence, sex, and depravity but it is a grabber of a story with good people trying their best to make things right.

  • Viccy
    2019-06-11 08:51

    Penn Cage is two years into his term as mayor of Natchez MS. He came into office full of vigor to reform the educational system because he knows a good education is the basis for a good work force. Now, completely disillusioned by the in-fighting and obstructionism he has encountered, he wants to quit. Except, one night, his old friend, Tim Jessup, comes to him to reveal there are dangerous things happening on one of the casino barges moored at the Natchez pier, drugs, prostitution, and worst of all, dog-fighting. Penn was responsible for bringing the Magnolia Queen to Natchez, so he wants to get to the bottom of the problems. When Tim turns up dead, tortured and shot, Penn knows something evil is lurking in his city. Caitlin Masters, Penn's girlfriend, returns from North Carolina to pursue the story for her newspaper. Penn's family must flee Natchez to get out of the way of the sadistic IRA masterminds directing the evil for their Chinese bosses. Together, Caitlin and Penn must defeat a sophisticated killer who has an almost preternatural ability to anticipate -- and counter -- their every move. Ultimately, victory will depend on a bold stroke that will leave one of Penn's allies dead -- and Natchez changed forever.

  • Faith Mortimer
    2019-06-20 03:05

    Difficult to star rate this book. 2 * means it was OK and 3* means I liked it. Well 'liked' is not a word I would necessarily use reviewing The Devil's Punchbowl.Anyway I've given it 3* because of the following;The setting was interesting and the author described it well. Some of the characters were believable, but the 'baddies' (stereotyped Irish) were probably far too way over the top. (As usual with the majority of contempory books I've read recently the heroine was an absolute PIA.)The writing was well written and understandable, even if as a Brit I sometimes had to check twice that I understand the American nuances.The difficulty was giving the subject matter and topic the 3* - as how can you really say you 'like' a book that is based on rape, money laundering, dog fighting, kidnapping, murder, drug taking, corruption and 101 other revolting topics?On the plus side it is an engrossing page turner, with masses of intrigue and suspense, except I feel 548 pages were a wee bit too long and drawn out. I would read another of Greg Isles books.