Rogue Island (Liam Mulligan Series #1)

Rogue Island (Liam Mulligan Series #1)

4.3 24
by Bruce DeSilva, Jeff Woodman
     
 

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“A well-written, funny, sad, suspenseful look at this bewildering world we live in . . . often hilarious, though built around a deadly serious plot . . . Although set in the present, Rogue Island is in truth a loving tribute to a golden age of journalism that now has all but vanished.” — The Washington Post

Liam Mulligan is as old school as a

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Overview

“A well-written, funny, sad, suspenseful look at this bewildering world we live in . . . often hilarious, though built around a deadly serious plot . . . Although set in the present, Rogue Island is in truth a loving tribute to a golden age of journalism that now has all but vanished.” — The Washington Post

Liam Mulligan is as old school as a newspaperman gets. His beat is Providence, Rhode Island, and he knows every street and alley. He knows the priests and the prostitutes, the cops and the street thugs. He knows the mobsters and the politicians — who are pretty much one and the same.

Times are changing fast. Corruption runs amok, and what a reporter has to do in the name of competition is becoming laughable. But when Mulligan realizes that someone is systematically burning down his old neighborhood, he ignores his bosses and his budding relationship to try to figure out the firebug’s identity. People he knows and loves are perishing in the flames and the public is on the verge of panic. With the whole city of Providence on his back, Mulligan must weed through a wildly colorful array of characters to find the truth.

“In this vivid landscape peopled by colorful mobsters, brutal cops, and sleazy politicians, a droll hero named Mulligan fights long odds to find a measure of justice. Rogue Island is a stunning debut in the noir tradition.” — Harlan Coben, New York Times bestselling author of Long Lost

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Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
DeSilva has 40 years of newspapering behind him, mostly with the Associated Press, and his first novel is as good and true a look at the news game as you'll find this side of The Front Page. Old newspapermen—we are legion—will delight in the book, as should anyone who appreciates a well-written, funny, sad, suspenseful look at this bewildering world we live in.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
The serial torching of Mount Hope, a deteriorating Providence, R.I., neighborhood, sparks an investigative reporter's mission to smoke out the firebug in DeSilva's promising debut. Journalist Liam Mulligan, a Mount Hope native, smells arson in the ashes of tenement fires that have claimed the lives of several friends. The deeper he digs into suspicious circumstances surrounding the blazes, though, the more resistance he meets from police, politicians, landlords, and lawyers. Soon, Mulligan himself is fingered for the fires by the same sleazy authorities he's investigating. Smart-ass Mulligan is a masterpiece of irreverence and street savvy, and DeSilva does a fine job of evoking the seamy side of his beat through the strippers, barkeeps, bookies, and hoodlums who are his confidantes and companions. They all contribute to the well-wrought noirish atmosphere that supports this crime novel's dark denouement. A twist in the tale will keep readers turning the pages until the bitter end. (Oct.)
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly Audio
DeSilva's lengthy career as a reporter for the Providence (R.I.) Journal has provided him with the writing skill and the in-depth knowledge of city room and cityscape so well displayed in this strong debut crime novel. It's also allowed him to create a totally believable protagonist in Liam Mulligan, a beleaguered journalist seeing his old neighborhood being destroyed by arson and his newspaper by reader disaffection. Mulligan's first-person narration is filled with emotion, not the least of which is his love-hate relationship with his city and state. And there are suspenseful moments of high tension. Too bad reader Boehmer has opted for a bland, even-tempered, almost bedtime-story approach, emphasizing key words without putting much feeling behind them. The only times he lets himself go is in delineating phone calls from Mulligan's shrewish ex-wife. Perversely, she's the novel's one character in need of underplaying. A Forge hardcover. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews

The smallest state bursts with crime, corruption, wisecracks and neo-noir atmosphere in DeSilva's blistering debut.

Someone's set seven fires in the Mount Hope section of Providence. Arson for profit is all too common in the city's history, but these buildings were owned by different people and insured by different companies. So Ernie Polecki, indolent Chief Arson Investigator, and his incompetent assistant Roselli, the mayor's cousin, assume that they're the work of a firebug. So do the DiMaggios, the vigilante crew who patrol the nighttime streets with baseball bats. But not seen-it-all reporter Liam Mulligan. His festering ulcer, estrangement from his harpy wife Dorcas and romance with his young Princeton-trained colleague Veronica Tang, who won't have sex with him till he gets tested for HIV, haven't absorbed all his energy. Shrugging off the insistence of city editor Ed Lomax that he file a story on a dog who ran across the country from Oregon to rejoin his relocated owners (a hilarious episode that shows just how desperate his professional situation is), Mulligan homes in on the developing story. His interest is fueled by the number of interested parties he just happens to be close to—from his prom date Rosella Morelli, now Battalion Chief of the fire department, to his burned-out bookie, Dominic "Whoosh" Zerilli—and by the arsonist's apparent determination to torch every structure in Rhode Island's capital. At length the mounting toll includes homes, storefronts, people and Mulligan's questionable peace of mind. When the lead he's supplied investigators goes sour and his own life is threatened, he has no choice but to trust the cub reporter he's been saddled with—the publisher's son, whom he calls Thanks-Dad—and the mobsters who'd be perfectly willing to set fires themselves, but who draw the line at killing women and children.

Mulligan is the perfect guide to a town in which the only ways to get things done are to be connected to the right people or to grease the right palms.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781480528772
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Series:
Liam Mulligan Series, #1
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.37(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

1

A plow had buried the hydrant under five feet of snow, and it took the crew of Engine Company No. 6 nearly fifteen minutes to find it and dig it out. The first fireman up the ladder to the second-floor bedroom window laid a hand on the aluminum siding and singed his palm through his glove.

The five-year-old twins had tried to hide from the flames by crawling under a bed. The fireman who carried the little boy down the ladder wept. The body was black and smoking. The fireman who descended with the little girl had already wrapped her in a sheet. The EMTs slid the children into the back of an ambulance and fishtailed down the rutted street with lights flashing, as if there were still a reason to hurry. The sixteen-year-old babysitter looked catatonic as she watched the taillights disappear in the dark.

Battalion Chief Rosella Morelli knocked the icicles off the brim of her fire hat. Then she whacked her gloved fist against the side of the gleaming red pumper.

“You counting?” I asked.

“Makes nine major house fires in Mount Hope in three months,” she said. “And five dead.”

The neighborhood of Mount Hope, wedged between an old barge canal and the swanky East Side, had been nailed together before the First World War to house the city’s swelling class of immigrant mill workers. Even then, decades before the mills closed and the jobs moved to South Carolina on their way to Mexico and Indonesia, it hadn’t been much to look at. Now lead paint flaked from the sagging porches of tinderbox triple-deckers. Flimsy cottages, many built without garages or driveways in an age of streetcars and shoe leather, smelled of dry rot in summer and wet rot in winter. Corroding Kenmores and Frigidaires crouched in the weeds that sprouted after the city dynamited the old Nelson Aldrich Junior High, where Mr. McCready first introduced me to Ray Bradbury and John Steinbeck.

The neighborhood’s straight, narrow streets, many named for varieties of trees that refused to grow there anymore, crisscrossed a gentle slope that offered occasional glimpses of downtown office towers and the marble dome of the statehouse. Real estate agents, fingers crossed behind their backs, called them “vistas.”

Mount Hope may not have been Providence’s best neighborhood, but it wasn’t its worst, either. A quarter of the twenty-six hundred families proudly owned their own homes. A community crime watch had cut down on the burglaries. Only 16 percent of the toddlers had lead poisoning from all that peeling paint, darn right healthy compared to the predominantly black and Asian neighborhood of South Providence, where the figure topped 40 percent. And five dead meant business was picking up at Lugo’s Mortuary, the neighborhood’s biggest legal business now that Deegan’s Auto Body had morphed into a chop shop and Marfeo’s Used Cars had given way to a heroin dealership.

The battalion chief watched her crew aim a jet of water through the twins’ bedroom window. “I’m getting real tired of notifying next of kin,” she said.

“Thank God you haven’t lost any of your men.”

She turned from the smoldering building and hit me with a withering glare, the same one she used to shame me when she caught me cheating at Chutes and Ladders when we were both six years old.

“You’re saying I should count my blessings?” she said.

“Just stay safe, Rosie.”

The glare softened a little. “Yeah, you too,” she said, although in my job the worst that was likely to happen was a paper cut.

Two hours later, I sat at the counter in my favorite Providence diner, sipping coffee from a heavy ceramic mug. The coffee was so good that I hated cutting it with so much milk. My ulcer growled that the milk wasn’t helping anyway.

The mug was smeared with ink from a fresh copy of the city edition. A pit bull, Rhode Island’s unofficial state dog, had mauled three toddlers on Atwells Avenue. The latest federal crime statistics had Providence edging out Boston and Los Angeles as the per-capita stolen-car capital of the world. Ruggerio “the Blind Pig” Bruccola, the local mob boss who pretended he was in the vending machine business, was suing the newspaper for printing that he was a mob boss pretending to be in the vending machine business. The state police were investigating game rigging at the state lottery commission. There was so much bad news that a perfectly good bad-news story, the fatal Mount Hope fire, had been forced below the fold on page one. I didn’t read that one because I’d written it. I didn’t read the others because they made my gut churn.

Charlie wiped beef-bloody hands on an apron that might have been white once and topped off my cup. “The hell you been, Mulligan? You smell like a fuckin’ ashtray.”

He didn’t expect an answer, and I didn’t offer one. He turned back to his work, tearing open two packs of buns. He balanced a dozen of them from wrist to shoulder along his sweat-slicked left arm, slapped in twelve Ball Park franks, and added mustard and sauerkraut. A snack for the overnighters at Narragansett Electric.

I took a sip and flipped to the sports page for the spring training news from Fort Myers.

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