by Bruce DeSilva
Cover Artist: Getty Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Forge Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765327260
Date: 12 October 2010 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative journalist Liam Mulligan loves living in Providence, Rhode Island, especially the predominately Italian, crime-infested neighborhood of Mount Hope in which he was raised. Unfortunately, a firebug has turned his small neighborhood into a living hell. Scores of innocent people, including some of his best friends, are being killed and maimed by senseless fires. Mulligan's determination to find the firebug uncovers a cruel conspiracy that will put his life in mortal danger.
Reading Bruce DeSilva's debut mystery was a rare treat. My emotions ran the entire gamut from crying to laughing; sometimes I cried and laughed on the same page. And I am not referring to a little-girl giggle; I threw back my head and howled with laughter. For example, each time Mulligan's soon-to-be ex-wife Dorcas called him on his cell phone, she began the conversation with a string of expletives; she's always accusing him of having sex with someone - his dental hygienist, her friends, her sisters, etc. Mulligan is one of the most cynical, pessimistic people about whom I have ever read. It seems he always believes the worst of everyone. Once he sat in a free clinic staring at his fellow patients and dreaming up scenarios (all of which had something to do with sex) as to why they were there.
Yes, our Red Sox-obsessed hero seems a little brash and uncouth at times but he does have a heart of gold. Anyone who takes a radio to a cemetery and sits next to a grave so that his deceased father and him can listen together to an important baseball game is okay in my book. With his extraordinary writing talent, Mulligan could've worked for any major newspaper in the country. Instead, he chose to remain where his roots and heart are attached. Three different women have crushes on him: his Amazonian childhood sweetheart, Battalion Chief Rosella "Rosie" Morelli; his photographer co-worker Gloria Costa who resembles Sharon Stone; and the ambitious Asian courthouse reporter Veronica Tang who insists that he look for a better paying job.
Besides Dorcas, Mulligan has a lot of other enemies. He is always ridiculed and berated by his competitive co-worker Hardcastle. His editor, Ed Lomax, rides him hard; he forces him to write "fluffy" stories, such as the dog that traveled across country to be with its owners, instead of focusing on the rash of deadly fires. Speaking of fires, the arson investigators, Polecki and Roselli (nicknamed "dumb and dumber" by Mulligan), are inept. It is no wonder that Mulligan feels it is his duty to track down the murderous firebug. Even the vigilante group, the DiMaggios, led by a bookmaker with mobster ties, Dominic Zerilli, can't find the firebug. The mystery really begins to heat up when the police arrest Mulligan as their prime suspect.
Rhode Island's Tourism Division wouldn't be happy about Rogue Island. First of all, legend has it that Rhode Island is the bastardized name for Rogue Island, mainly because of the numerous pirate ships that held sway there. Second, Mulligan paints the citizens of New Hope as vulgar, crooked, amoral and inept; he believes the state legislature is not only controlled by the mafia, it is the mafia. Every tidbit of state history he provides has an unscrupulous little-known story behind it. For example, in the bars there is a drink, Narragansett, named after the local Indian tribe that was massacred by the Christian settlers. Mulligan takes the reader on a tasteless tour of Providence, which includes Good Times Charlie's, a strip bar, and a convenience store named Hopes where, according to Mulligan, the only addition since its conception has been a condom dispenser in the men's room.
Rogue Island is a crazy thrill ride of never-ending violence, shocks, laughs and heart-stopping suspense. The writing is excellent and Bruce DeSilva (or should I say Liam Mulligan) tells it like it is. I found it difficult to lay this novel aside during the holidays. Rogue Island is a must read for fans of mysteries where the hero is an investigative reporter who always goes out on a limb to write his front-page story. I can only hope that DeSilva is working on a sequel.
If you enjoyed reading about the sarcastic, wisecracking Mulligan, then another reporter whom you will want to investigate is Carter Ross of Brad Parks’s Faces of the Gone and Parks's soon to be released Eyes of the Innocent.