The devil's punchbowl

Greg Iles

Book - 2009

Lawyer Penn Cage goes up against a mix of murder, racial tension, double-crosses, illicit sex-- and all of the ensuing violent consequences in the kudzu-strangled, snake- rat- and armadillo-infested hole of the Devil's Punchbowl.

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FICTION/Iles, Greg
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New York : Scribner 2009.
1st Scribner hardcover ed
Physical Description
580 p.
Main Author
Greg Iles (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Whenever Iles steps up to the literary plate, he seems to hit one out of the park. Penn Cage, the lawyer-turned-novelist who appeared in The Quiet Game (1999) and Turning Angel (2005), returns with a vengeance—literally—in this explosive, shocking novel. Set, as usual, in Natchez, Mississippi, the tale finds Penn regretting his decision to run for mayor; now that he has been elected, he's not sure he's up to the challenges he set for himself. But when an old friend comes to Penn with a story of nastiness aboard a floating casino, and then the friend is murdered, Penn vows to bring the people responsible to justice. He has no idea who he is dealing with, however, and it soon becomes clear that he will have his hands full simply protecting himself and his family from a gang of ruthless men. Penn is certainly a strong protagonist, but readers will see a new, vulnerable side of him here: he is hesitant, unsure of his abilities, unsure whether he can cross the moral line necessary to keep his loved ones safe. With a capable supporting cast—including helicopter pilot Danny McDavitt, who also plays a key role in the novel Third Degree (2007)—and a pair of supremely villainous villains, this top-flight thriller displays what Iles fans have known for quite a while now: he is an author who just keeps getting better. That's saying something for somebody who is already head and shoulders above most of his competitors. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The Devil's Punchbowl is a seemingly bottomless pit near the Mississippi River at Natchez that's apparently loaded with snakes, murder victims, and maybe Jean Lafitte's treasure. The perfect setting for the return of Penn Cage (The Quiet Game). Big tour. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Penn Cage (Quiet Game, Turning Angel), a former prosecuting attorney-turned-novelist, is now mayor of Natchez, MS, his hometown. But all is not well, for the promises he made as a candidate seem all but impossible to achieve as a working mayor. When one of his childhood friends is murdered a day after contacting him with information concerning dog fighting, prostitution, drugs, and money laundering presided over by the manager of a Natchez gambling casino, Cage takes on an investigation that makes him the target of organized crime, endangers the lives of his family and closest friends, and draws the wrath of the Justice Department and Homeland Security. VERDICT Iles's latest provides a thrill a minute, as Cage calls in long-owed favors to protect his family while employing every strategy in his command against a savvy, conscienceless killer. The author also manages to advance the love between Cage and Caitlin Masters, which, readers will remember, began in Turning Angel, and to present a striking panoramic view of his hometown. Highly recommended for thriller fans looking for a white-knuckled beach read.-Thomas L. Kilpatrick, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale [Page 84]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Bestseller Iles's stellar third suspense novel to feature Penn Cage (after Turning Angel) finds the former prosecutor and bestselling novelist serving as the mayor of Natchez, Miss., his hometown. Frustrated by his limited ability to change the system, Cage is plunged into a deadly duel of wits with some bad guys after a childhood friend, Tim Jessup, now a card dealer, alerts him to illegal dog fighting and sexual abuse connected with a floating casino. Before Jessup can deliver proof of his allegations, he's tortured and killed. Convinced Jessup managed to pass on the evidence to the mayor, Jessup's boss confronts and threatens Cage. Daniel Kelly, an old friend working for a private security organization, lends support, sneaking Cage's 11-year-old daughter out of town to safety. Iles brilliantly creates opportunities for his characters to demonstrate principle and courage, both on a large and small scale, making this much more than just an exciting read. (July) [Page 33]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A deep river pit in Natchez, Mississippi, reputed to be the hiding spot for Jean Lafitte's hidden treasure and a dumping ground for numerous murder victims, becomes the site of a dangerous showdown for Penn Cage.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Penn Cage series comes an electrifying thriller that reveals a world of depravity, sex, violence, and the corruption of a Southern town.As a prosecuting attorney in Houston, 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 try to restore this fading jewel of the Old South, Penn has ridden into office on a tide of support 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 fantastical steamboats float on the river beside the old slave market at Natchez like props from Gone With the Wind.But one boat isn't like 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&;on sleek private jets that slip in and out of town like whispers in the night&;come pro football players, rap stars, and international gamblers, all sharing 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 his 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 lives at stake, Penn realizes his only allies in his one-man war are those bound to him by blood or honor:-Caitlin Masters, the lover Penn found in The Quiet Can Game and lost in Turning Angel -Danny McDavitt, the heroic helicopter pilot from Third Degree -Tom Cage, Penn's father and legendary local family physician -Walt Garrity, a retired Texas Ranger who served with Penn's father during the Korean WarTogether they 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.After appearing in two of Iles's most popular novels, Penn Cage makes his triumphant return as a brilliant, honorable, and courageous hero. Rich with Southern atmosphere and marked by one jaw-dropping plot turn after another, The Devil's Punchbowl confirms that Greg Iles is America's master of suspense.