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The Devil's Punchbowl
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Iles's third addition to the Penn Cage saga is an effective thriller that would have been even more satisfying at half its length. There is a lot of story to cover, with Cage now mayor of Natchez, Miss., battling to save his hometown, his family and his true love from the evil clutches of a pair of homicidal casino operators who are being protected by a homeland security bigwig. Dick Hill handles the large cast of characters effortlessly, adopting Southern accents that range from aristocratic (Cage and his elderly father) to redneck (assorted Natchez townsfolk). He provides the bad guys with their vocal flair, including an icy arrogance for the homeland security honcho, a soft Asian-tempered English for the daughter of an international villain and the rough Irish brogue of the two main antagonists. One of the latter pretends to be an upper-class Englishman and, in a moment of revelation, Hill does a smashing job of switching accents mid-sentence. A Scribner hardcover (Reviews, May 25). (July) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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