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The Devil's Punchbowl (Penn Cage #3)

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  12,873 Ratings  ·  1,022 Reviews
From New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles comes his most electrifying thriller yet. The Devil's Punchbowl 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 da
ebook, 480 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Scribner
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Ross Rawnsley Erica, Kelley has parts in both of Iles earlier novels (Quiet Game and Turning Angel). Not to spoil anything, but he also is in Natchez Burning.

I do…more
Erica, Kelley has parts in both of Iles earlier novels (Quiet Game and Turning Angel). Not to spoil anything, but he also is in Natchez Burning.

I do agree that it would be nice to see him in his own book or even series!(less)
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Community Reviews

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Edward Lorn
Jul 07, 2015 Edward Lorn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone with a brain, a pulse, and enough oxygen intake to run both at maximum input/output
Shelves: paperbacks
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 ...more
Jul 15, 2009 Marie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 e ...more
Tricia-Lynn Harter
Nov 11, 2008 Tricia-Lynn Harter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE -- michael vick supporters
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 forgo
James Thane
Jul 16, 2011 James Thane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
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 ...more
Thomas Edmund
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 enou
John DeDakis
Jan 30, 2010 John DeDakis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 03, 2015 Steven Z. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jan 27, 2010 Robyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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 onl
Book Concierge
Playaway Audio book read by Dick Hill

Book 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 Magn
Apr 25, 2015 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 boo
Jun 29, 2016 Alan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
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 e
Jul 19, 2012 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 townsp
Oct 06, 2009 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any action fan with a strong stomach.
Recommended to Richard by: I try to read all Mr. Iles work.
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
Mar 11, 2014 Tez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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-h
Jun 22, 2011 Trudi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Feb 07, 2010 Skip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
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
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.
Feb 19, 2010 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-2010
Another can't put down book from Greg Iles.
Feb 12, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 t
Dec 26, 2011 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 fro ...more
Cara St.Hilaire
May 06, 2010 Cara St.Hilaire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
May 23, 2011 Denise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 of 5 stars
This 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
Jul 25, 2015 Deborah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 lov
John Matsui
Jul 22, 2016 John Matsui rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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'
Jul 04, 2014 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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-Assista
Barbara M
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 n
Apr 22, 2014 Viccy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
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 ...more
Faith Mortimer
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 writi
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The Devl's Punch Bowl 7 49 Jul 14, 2015 08:49PM  
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Greg Iles was born in Germany in 1960. He grew up in Natchez, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1983. He was active in a band called "Frankly Scarlet", but quit after realizing that the touring lifestyle was not conducive with his family life. Once no longer busy with the band, he turned his attention to writing.

Greg's novels have been translated into various languag
More about Greg Iles...

Other Books in the Series

Penn Cage (6 books)
  • The Quiet Game
  • Turning Angel
  • Natchez Burning
  • The Bone Tree
  • Mississippi Blood (Penn Cage, #6)

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“When everything is at risk, good judgment, not haste, makes the difference between life and death. Panic is the enemy.” 9 likes
“Whenever life gets too good, whenever fate hands you something wonderful, something else gets taken away.” 3 likes
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