TUPELO – Best-selling author Greg Iles said people sometimes think his character, Penn Cage, is a version of himself.
During a stop at Reed’s Gum Tree Bookstore on Friday, Iles said he’s not nearly a good enough person to be the inspiration for Cage.
“Penn Cage is sort of my Atticus Finch character,” Iles told about 40 people who’d gathered for his book signing. “I think of him as Gregory Peck in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.'”
Cage started as a character in “The Quiet Game,” Iles’ novel that was set in his hometown of Natchez. He’s returned to Cage and Natchez for “The Devil’s Punchbowl,” which was released on Tuesday.
“People say I do Natchez a back-handed favor by setting my books there,” he said.
“The Devil’s Punchbowl” delves into the corruption that accompanies legalized gambling. He said the novel includes realistic accounts of “dog fighting and kinky things.”
This is his 14th book, and twelve of his previous novels have been New York Times’ best-sellers.
The trend for “The Devil’s Punchbowl” is looking good. In a recessionary time for the publishing industry, Iles said early book sales are 30 percent higher than for his last effort, “Third Degree.”
The response to his novels has been “better than I hoped for when I started,” the 49-year-old said, “when I was a young man trying to find this store.”
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal