There are numerous reviews for this book wherein the reviewer flat out lies about the content for whatever reason. In this, the third Penn Cage novel, Iles ramps up both the action and the uncomfortable subject matter. While the subject of dogfighting is prevalent throughout the book, this book is not full of dogfights, as some reviewers will have you believe. 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. 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.
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.
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.
The Devil's Punchbowl is the third Penn Cage novel by Greg Isles. But, when his old high school friend comes to him with information about illegal activities aboard a floating casino, Penn feels responsible for supporting it's presence in the first place. When Annie's life is threatened, Penn calls in reinforcements, and the games begin- The book deals with prostitution, money laundering, and illegal dog fighting, kidnapping and murder. I personally was disappointed that Caitlyn still had such a hold on Penn and Annie. But, in this novel, Caitlyn seems to have changed a little, and by the end of the book she has put many of the qualities I disliked, behind her. It's a mystery, thriller, crime novel, and a little romance too. The author had promised we would be hearing from Penn again very soon when this book was published.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. 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. Iles has the ability to grab the readers 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.
I usually enjoy his books about character, Penn Cage. 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. 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.
I REALLY like the way this guy writes.
The way the women think and act make it clear the author is a male.
Once no longer busy with the band, he turned his attention to writing.