I really enjoyed this latest book by Greg Iles. The story was a bit graphic, but it was a necessary part of the overall tone. What I found difficult to handle was the narration by Dick Hill. While his accent was very realistic, I found that I had to continually adjust the volume throughout the narration due to Mr. Hill's inflection moving from loud to barely a whisper. It was extremely distracting.
It was hard enough listening to the parts about how the women were raped and abused, but then add in dog fighting - ugh! It was a good story just way to graphic for my taste. I have enjoyed many of Mr. Iles's other books.
I can only agree with the previous reviews, I like Greg Iles books. I hated the narration. Horrible fake southern accent. When he read for the women, it was like chewing glass to listen to it: screeching, high pitched and irritating.
I don't know whether the book itself is boring or whether the narrator pushed it in that direction, but in either case, the story line seemed quite predictable, the ending totally manufactured and the characters ... well cardboard would be a compliment.
But worst of all was the narration which was often unintelligible and at its best condescending to the South.
Pas this one by.
The man who reads this book is poor at women's conversation. All the female dialog sounds weak and pitiful. It was very annoying.
I couldn't agree more with the comments about how distracting the narrator is. His pseudo-Southern accent and poor volume modulation eventually drove me to rebuy this book in the Kindle version, on which the remainder of this review is based.
The Devil's Punchbowl is more of a summer read ("beach book"), long on plot and relatively short on character development, than are the two previous Penn Cage novels. This is especially true if you haven't already been introduced to Penn Cage, his family, and his love interest, Caitlin Masters. The plot stands on its own, but I didn't think the book gave the same insights into character motivation that The Quiet Game did.
If this is your first Penn Cage novel, I'd suggest you choose The Quiet Game instead.
The character development in The Quiet Game is top notch and the plot revolves around a Houston DA who returns to his childhood home in Natchez, MS and gets involved in solving a civil rights murder that took place in 1968. The combination of compelling characters, deep insight into the Southern mentality, and a fascinating plot made for a superb book. The second Penn Cage novel, Turning Angel, was almost equally good.
The Devil's Punchbowl, on the other hand, stretched the limits of credulity somewhat (plot involves international gambling ring) and has less local color that the two previous books in the series. And the graphic descriptions of dog fights and the way fighting dogs are mistreated are quite unpleasant. To be fair, the dog fight theme is integral to the story line, not merely gratuitous. But if this sort of thing bothers you, you might think twice. In fact, had this not been a novel written by one of my favorite authors, I probably would never have read past the first dog fight scene.
This is the first time I've had to quit listening due to poor sound quality. Others have remarked on narration sounding garbled and I agree.I enjoy Mr. Iles stories and would try again but this one was a lemon. Save your money and skip this audio.
I may never know if this story is good. Dick Hill's narration is a total distraction. I've listened to many audio books, many narrated by him. Some have been great. Others have been like this one. Voice volume varies so much I can't find a comfortable listening level. Emotion is overdone. It isn't possible to maintain the intended high pitch of excitement. I've listened to about half of the first download and find myself turning it off. I go back to try again only to turn it off again. A huge disappointment.
I usually like a long book because I get more entertainment for my money. This book is the exception because it is long without saying much. In the hard copy of the book there must be pages of rhetoric about Natchez and the public school problem that I would have simply skipped, but that is hard to do with an audio book. I listened, bored to tears, as Penn went on and on about the things he wanted to change in Natchez. When the climax to the story finally happened I was relieved that the book was nearly over; then it goes on for more than an hour. Finally, just as thing are wrapping up, the writer leaves us with a suspenseful ending. The story line is basically a good one, just much too long for me.
Electrical Engineer, 51 years old father of 3.
I love the story that Greg tells and even better the way he telles it. Penn Cage and his father have some really cool friends and all come to play in this novel. Great work I am looking forward to Greg's next book.
Dick Hill is a master.