Bestseller Iles’s stellar third suspense novel to feature Penn Cage (after Turning Angel) finds the former prosecutor and bestselling novelist. From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Penn Cage series comes an electrifying thriller that reveals a world of depravity, sex, violence, and the. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Starred Review. Bestseller Iles’s stellar third suspense novel to feature Penn Cage (after Turning Angel) finds the .

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From the 1 New York Times bestselling author of the Penn Cage series comes an electrifying thriller that 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 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: 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 yreg his one-man war are those bound to him by blood or honor: 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 ddevil 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.

After graduating from the University of Mississippi inhe performed for several years with the rock band Frankly Scarlet and is a member of the lit-rock group The Rock Bottom Remainders. He lives in Natchez, Mississippi. Iles’ knack for perfectly integrating character and plot could serve as a master’s class for other authors. By clicking ‘Sign me up’ I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the privacy policy and terms of use. Free eBook offer available to NEW subscribers only.

Must redeem within 90 days. See full terms and conditions and this month’s defil. Tell us what you like, so we can send you books you’ll love. Sign up and get a free eBook! Price may vary by retailer. Add to Cart Add to Cart. A silver-white moon hangs high over the mirror-black river and the tired levee, shedding cold light on the Louisiana delta stretching off toward Texas.

I stand among the luminous stones on the Mississippi side, shivering like the only living man for miles. At my feet lies a stark slab of granite, and under that stone lies the body of my wife. The monument at its head reads: I came out of guilt. News that confirms the rumors being murmured over golf greens at the country club, bellowed between plays beside high school gridirons, and whispered through the hunting camps like a rising breeze before a storm.


When Jessup asked to meet me, I resisted. Yet in the end I agreed to hear him out. For if the rumors are true—if a uniquely disturbing evil has entered into my town—it was I who opened the door for it. I ran for mayor in a Jeffersonian fit of duty to save my hometown revil, in my righteousness, was arrogant enough to believe I could deal with the devil and somehow keep our collective virtue intact.

For months now, a sense of failure has been accreting in my chest like fibrous tissue. Most Americans are raised never to give up, and in the South that credo is practically a religion. We pay lip service to ideals, but we live by expediency and by tribal prejudice. Accepting this hypocrisy has nearly broken me. Sadly, the people closest to deil saw this coming long ago.

My father and my lover at the time tried to save me from myself, but I would not be swayed. The heaviest burden I bear is knowing that my daughter has paid the highest price for my illusions. Now all I hear is the empty rush of the punchbkwl, whispering the lesson so many have learned before me: My watch reads With a silent farewell to my wife, I turn and slip between the monuments, working my way back up toward Jewish Hill, our rendezvous point.

My feet make no sound in the dewy, manicured grass. Most of the corpses in this place had white skin when they were alive, but as in punchboowl, the truth here is found at the margins.

Most of these were interred without a marker. You have to go farther down the road, to the national cemetery, to find the graves of truly free black people, many of them soldiers who lie among the twenty-eight hundred unknown Union dead.

Yet this cemetery breathes an older history. Some people buried here were born in the mids, and if they were resurrected tomorrow, parts of the town would not look much different to them. Infants who died of yellow fever lie beside Spanish dons and forgotten generals, all moldering beneath crying angels and marble saints, while the gnarled oak branches spread ever wider above revil, draped with cinematic beards of Pnuchbowl moss.

Natchez is the oldest city on the Mississippi River, punchbolw even than New Orleans, and when you see the dark, tilted gravestones disappearing into the edges of the forest, you know it. I last came here to view a million dollars in damage wreaked by drunk vandals on dvil irreplaceable wrought iron and statuary that make this cemetery unique.

Now all four gates are chained shut at dusk. When Jessup first ilds, I thought he was proposing the cemetery for his convenience; he works on one of the riverboat casinos at the foot of the bluff—the Magnolia Queen, moored almost directly below Jewish Hill—and midnight marks the end of his shift. Swore, in fact, that I could trust neither my own police department nor any official of the city government. He also made me promise not to call his cell phone or his home for any reason.

Part of me considers his claims ridiculous, but a warier clump of brain cells knows from experience that corruption can run deep. I was a lawyer in another puncgbowl prosecutor. I started out wanting to be Atticus Finch and ended up sending sixteen people to death row.

One day, I simply woke up and realized that I had not been divinely ordained to punish the guilty. Uncertain what to do with my newfound surplus of time and facing an acute shortage of fundsI began writing about ipes courtroom experiences and, like a few other lawyers ies in the wake of John Grisham, found myself selling enough books to place my name on the bestseller lists.


We bought a bigger house and moved Annie to an elite prep school.

The Devil’s Punchbowl | Book by Greg Iles | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

An unfamiliar sense of self-satisfaction began to creep into my life, a feeling that I was one of the chosen, destined for success in whatever field I chose. I had an enviable career, a wonderful family, a few good friends, lots of faithful readers. I was young enough and arrogant enough to believe that I deserved all this, and foolish enough to think it would last.

Then my wife died.

The Devil’s Punchbowl

Four months after my father diagnosed Sarah with cancer, puncjbowl buried her. The shock of losing her almost broke me, and it shattered my four-year-old daughter. There—here—before I could begin working my way back to earth, I found myself drawn into a thirty-year-old murder case, one that ultimately saved my life and ended four others.

That was seven years ago.

My heart labors from climbing the nearly vertical face of Jewish Hill, but each breath brings the magical scent of sweet olive, still blooming in mid-October.

Under the sweet olive simmers a roux of thicker smells: When I reach the edge of the table of earth that is Jewish Hill, the land and sky fall away before me with breathtaking suddenness. The drop to the river is two hundred feet here, down a kudzu-strangled bluff of windblown loess—rich soil made from rock ground fine by glaciers—the foundation of our city. From this height you can look west over endless flatland with almost intoxicating pride, and I think that feeling is what made so many nations try to claim this land.

France, Spain, England, the Confederacy: As I sit, a pair of headlights moves up Cemetery Road like a ship beating against the wind, tacking back and forth across the lane that winds along the edge of the bluff.

The next three days will be the busiest of my year as mayor, beginning with a news conference and a helicopter flight in the morning. Rising from the bench, I walk to my right, toward a gentler slope of the hill, where my old Saab waits beyond the cemetery wall.

As I bend to slide down the hill, an urgent whisper breaks the silence of the night: Are you up here? Yet here is Tim Jessup, materializing like one of the ghosts so many people believe haunt this ancient hill. Jessup claims to be clean now, thanks largely to his new wife, Julia, who was three years behind us in high school. Julia Stanton married the high school quarterback at nineteen and took five years of punishment before forfeiting that particular game. When I heard she was marrying Jessup, I figured she wanted a perfect record of losses.

She got him a job and has kept him at it for over a year, dealing blackjack on the casino boats, most recently the Magnolia Queen. Though he and I are the same age—born exactly one month apart—he looks ten years older. In the end both Tim and I failed to fulfill this, but in very different ways.

For though Tim Jessup made a lifetime of bad decisions—in full knowledge of the risks—the one that set them all in train could have been, and in fact was, made by many of us. Only luck carried the rest of us through. How does this guy deal blackjack all night? But I think maybe they suspect something. You got to be careful dealing with this class of people. Predators, I kid you not. They sense a threat, they react—bam!

Like sharks in the water.