This is my second Greg Iles book and, like the first, it was a satisfactory page turner and I’m happy to report that the story was not so far-fetched that it unbelievable. My only issue with it, and this is kind of petty I’ll admit, is picturing Penn Cage, the author’s alter ego, as a bad-ass tough guy who has no hesitation taking on two very evil dudes whose shenanigans are the focus of the story. Mr. Cage is a former prosecutor turned novelist turned mayor of Natchez, Ms. In other words, his hands have no callouses. But I guess in most fiction of this genre you have to be willing to go with the premise, and it’s easy to do with Devil’s Punchbowl. I’m starting to like Mr. Iles characters and will no doubt read another of his books set in Natchez someday soon.
Our illustrious new president has been on the job now for a little over two weeks now and every day seems ripe for a new disaster. Last week he threw airports into chaos with his Executive Order on immigration. Then he mocked a U.S. senator for getting emotional over the policy. He’s rattling sabers at Iran over some missile tests they have going on, and he got in a testy telephone argument with the Prime Minister of Australia, one of our strongest allies, over an immigration deal they cut with the previous administration, calling it “stupid.”
And if that weren’t enough, he’s still obsessed with the low television ratings of “The Apprentice”, which caused host Arnold Schwarzenegger to propose they switch jobs, which sounds like a pretty good idea to me. I find myself checking news sites several times a day to see what new idiocy is about to befall us. This is the strangest thing I have seen in my lifetime. I hope to god we get through it unscathed.
The Royals said goodbye to speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson last week, trading him to Seattle for a RHP. The second major Kansas City trade of the off-season fits the pattern of the first; exchanging free agents-to-be for younger players with upside potential and several years of team control remaining on their contracts. Looks to me like GM Dayton Moore is positioning the Royals to retain one or more of the core group who will be very expensive free agents in 2018: Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain and Duffy. Sounds like a tall order, but we’ll see. As for Dyson, he was fun to watch on the base paths late in close games, but despite a .278 batting average he was not a good everyday fit in a line-up that was already starved for power. Besides, he’s 32 and that flashy speed he’s famous for is going to start slipping away over the next couple of years, because as we all know, that’s what speed do. Good luck, Jarrod. It’s been fun.
The long Holiday week has come to an end. Christmas decorations are put away. College bowl games are over except for the Big One next Monday. The NFL playoffs are set. The new Republican-controlled Congress has been sworn in and already they have screwed the pooch. The first initiative on their ambitious schedule was to be the dismantling of an independent congressional ethics board, however they were forced to retreat in the face of intense public backlash. Good start ladies and gentlemen. You’re well on your way to becoming the next Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. Mr. Trump has kept a low profile for the past few days. There was a big New Year’s Eve bash at his Florida estate on Saturday night, so he’s probably been busy gathering empty liquor bottles, dumping ashtrays, draining yellow water from fountains and freeing panties stuck in the swimming pool filter. Whatever keeps him off Twitter is fine by me. Seventeen days until inauguration.
It usually concerns me when the author’s name is in larger type than the book title. It seems to me a kind of arrogance. I had never heard of Greg Isles until I picked up this book, so it probably wasn’t fair of me to have visions of James Patterson dancing in my head just from the book jacket. I’m glad I gave Mr. Isles a chance, because I thoroughly enjoyed his story. The title references a monument in the local cemetery, and I’m still not sure what the significance was. It’s only mentioned a couple of times. I suppose it’s a metaphor for something. No matter. This is one of those guilty pleasure books with generous helpings of sex, violence, lust, intrigue, ambition, racial tension, you name it. There is a murder, of course. Several actually, but the story focuses on just one. It all takes place in the Deep South, which I like. It kept me turning pages, which I also like. I’ll be giving another of Mr. Isles books a try very soon.
Yesterday, Donald J. Trump was officially elected the 45th President of the United States. The revolt of a sufficient number of electors to prevent him from taking office didn’t happen, despite the hopes of the last few hold-outs. The orange-tinted carnival barker will take the oath of office one month from today. What happens after that is anybody’s guess. I wish him well. The future of our country depends on his success. The first thing he should do is close his Twitter account.
This was another recommendation by my friend Cliff. He mentioned it at the bar months ago and I put the title in my phone then promptly forgot about it. Recently I saw a list of the “Best Books of 2016” and this book was on it, so I checked it out. Great story, great pacing, great juxtaposition between present events and background on the characters, which is necessary because most of them were dead by Chapter Two. Our protagonist is a painter, and I don’t mean the kind that paints houses. This one paints disasters: fires, tornadoes, plane crashes, etc. (This is the second book I’ve read this year where the main character is a recovering alcoholic painter. Coincidence? You decide.) This painter and a four year-old boy are the only survivors when a private jet crashes into the ocean. The deceased are rich and famous. The story focuses on the mystery behind the crash and our painter’s suddenly upside-down life as he becomes the target of an insatiable media. When I read on the dust cover that the author was one of the creative minds behind the television series Fargo I had a strong sense I was going to like this book. I was not disappointed.