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Publisher's Summary

As a prosecutor in Houston, Penn Cage sent killers to death row. But as mayor of his hometown - Natchez, Mississippi - 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 has turned to casino gambling, and now five steamboats float on the river beside the old slave market, 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, he begins a quest to find the men responsible. But the local authorities have been corrupted by the money and power of his hidden enemy and, with his family's lives at stake, Penn realizes his only allies are those bound to him by blood or honor.

Together they must defeat a 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.

©2009 Greg Iles; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Cathy
  • Carlin, NV, United States
  • 09-13-12

Good story

Got off with a sluggish start. I always have to adjust to Dick Hill. (Where is George Guidall?). Too much information and graphics on the dog fights for me. I skipped past those parts. Unfortunately, it is a reality. I like long books that hold my attention and this one did with only a few places that drew out a bit much.
Overall.....I recommend this one for those long drives or long days.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Brad
  • Littleton, MA, United States
  • 10-01-13

Southern Thriller

Greg Iles writes long, complex southern mysteries long on small city customs and social stratification in the New South. His protagonist that appears in three of his novels is Penn Cage, a prosecuting attorney. This book has all of the elements of a good thriller,plus very solid character development. You care for the main players and Iles gives you time to get engaged with them as well as a murky plot. There is a lot of action, so the plot has a steady rush to the conclusion. Recommended very highly.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Titus
  • Durham, NC
  • 07-20-09

Great Story - Terrible Narration

This is a great story and I think that I would have enjoyed it much more had I read it. The narrator utilizes the most extreme southern accent for the lead character . I live in Mississippi and have not heard that accent for 40 years. It sounds like Foghorn Leghorn. Mr. Hill can do a good job, but he laid this one on a little too thick.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great story, terrible production

I love Greg Iles stories and usually like Dick Hill's reading, but the production on this one was nearly intolerable. In the interest of drama, I suppose, Hill's voice was up and down from ear piercing to unintelligible. It wasn't him as much as the modulation. I tried it on 3 different devices and then immediately listened to another book sample to be certain it wasn't my ears.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Good Mystery

I have a love / hate relationship with this series. The mystery / plot is very good, written to hold your interest and what's not to like about Penn? I like all the characters. Dick Hill has always been one of our favorite narrators. Here's the "but"..... it's too long. Shave 8 hours off, you've still got a great book, but you're not screaming "enough already!" in your head. I find the violent, abusive sex in EVERY book has now crossed my line. My spouse says that's how real life is out there in the dark alleys. Maybe I'm not that interested in the true nitty gritty dirty aspects of life or maybe it's a man / woman thing. I do, however, love the setting of Natchez, Ms. I'm drawn to the stories of the area and people and the Mississippi.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • CBDC
  • Washington, DC USA
  • 07-26-10

Not his best but Iles can't be bad

I prefer some of his other books (Spandau Prison, Black Cross, Blood Memory) but Iles develops his characters so fully that I found (1/2 way through the book) that I really cared about them. The story is about gambling, dog fighting, a lot of nasty evil people, and the others you care about. The people I cared about made it so that I couldn't stop listening, even though I didn't like parts of the story. I have liked Dick Hill reading other books, but didn't like the accent he assumed in this one. I don't know if it's my bias (I'm a Yankee). It did take awhile for me to get used to the accent, but eventually the story took over.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Maria
  • Nashville, AR, United States
  • 11-05-10


I like Greg Iles and this one was pretty good as far as the novel goes but the narrator was horrid. He made the main character sound like a tired old man, or worse, a politician giving a boring speech. Pauses between many words, even pauses within the words! Just awful. It was all I could do to keep the faith and listen to the end.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Lynn
  • Temecula, CA, United States
  • 09-14-12

Narration was horrid

What made the experience of listening to The Devil's Punchbowl the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed the story but almost gave up because of the reader. The latent "s" and
Yelling were very difficult because I listen with earphones. Also he would then start whispering and also made all the women into shrieking whimpering idiots even though the characters were strong.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kristine
  • Winthrop Harbor, Israel
  • 04-13-10

Very well done!

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ruth
  • Colorado Springs, CO, USA
  • 07-28-09

Worst Narration/Good Story

This has to be the worst narration I have ever heard. I will never purchase another audible download with this narrator. The book itself was very entertaining. I stopped listening after chapter 5 and went out and purchased the book. Not as great a story as Greg Isles is famous for but entertaining and worth a listen.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful