The Devil's Punchbowl: Book summary and reviews of The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles

The Devil's Punchbowl

A Novel

By Greg Iles

The Devil's Punchbowl
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2009,
    592 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

Together 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. 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." - Publishers Weekly

"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." - Library Journal

"Just right for beach reading at Gulfport - or Tunica, for that matter: a whodunit that aspires to literature, albeit of the Southern Gothic variety." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by jack lafaye
eliptical enigma
This whole storyline is filled with clues that are indeed, eliptical enigmas. That is puzzels with omissions. Caitlin masters is the first. what happened to the filmmaker, Jan? why did caitlin bring him to Natchez? How did she end her relationship with jan, or did she? Is she really going to be happy in Natchez, even for two years? Is she lying to Penn about not having intimate relationships in Boston? What was her real reason for leaving Penn eighteen months ago? was she pregnant when Caitlin offered her condition of marriage to Penn, as he asked her in jest? Why didn't Penn ask her about her and Jan's status before agreeing to marry her. He is too smart to be that dumb, or is she right about him being the smartest dumb man that she has ever met, right? Does Penn realize that he's about to marry a sexual diletante? Are we also supposed to believe that only twentyfour hours in a dog kennel, has changed her arrogant, intimidating, persona. I might have sucumbed to this theory if she had been raped. That she is now cleansed of her hubris approach to life? I have pondered over these questions since I read the novel in september of 2009. Some clues I have gathered an answer for; like where she met jan. He's a filmmaker, she has been on Antigua. He was filming the corporate retreat that she attended there. They became lovers, thus why he appears in Natchez and is hidden away, probably in an executive reserved suite, retained by her paper. That was the reason she didn't announce her return to Natchez to Penn, and why she didn't let Jan stay in her house across the street from Penn's. She didn't want Penn to know that he was with her.This had to be the author's method of highten our desire for the sequel... Unwritten Laws. Well... Greg, it worked. At least for moi.Please try and answer some of these enigmas in the sequel. Sorry about your illness. Hope all is well now.
regards, Jack
June 13, 2010.

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Author Information

Greg Iles Author Biography

Ben Hillyer

Greg Iles was born in Germany in 1960, where his father ran the US Embassy Medical Clinic during the height of the Cold War. He spent his youth in Natchez, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1983. Greg spent several years playing music in the band Frankly Scarlet. The year after he was married, he gigged on the road for 50 weeks out of 52, and realized that this lifestyle was simply not sustainable with a family. He quit the band and began working eighteen hours a day on his first novel, Spandau Phoenix, a thriller about Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess. When Greg sold this manuscript, he left the music business to complete the book.

Spandau Phoenix was published in 1993 and became the first of ten New York Times bestsellers. Iles's novels have been translated ...

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