Cliff Walk: A Liam Mulligan Novel
by Bruce DeSilva
Cover Artist: Jupiterimages
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Forge Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765332370
Date: 22 May 2012 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Bruce DeSilva's Cliff Walk is an intriguing, complex noir that will leave the reader feeling dirty and wanting to take a shower. From its gruesome beginning, when a child's severed arm is gobbled up by a six-hundred pound hog to its shocking culmination at Cliff Walk, this novel is gritty and hard hitting. It is not for the squeamish. Because of its strong sexual content and foul language, it is not intended for children either. Many readers will be offended by its slanted views on religious organizations and the Republican party. Nevertheless, offensive or not, Cliff Walk is like a multi-car pileup that is hard to ignore or forget.
The heavyset, athletic Liam Mulligan is a newspaper reporter who has survived innumerable layoffs at the floundering Providence Dispatch. He can't imagine earning his living doing anything else. He has a wide assortment of strange friends that include a bookie, Dominic "Whoosh" Zerilli, a bouncer at a stripper bar, Joseph DeLucca, and an obnoxious nun who is the Rhode Island attorney general, Fiona McNerney (a.k.a. Atilla the Nun). He doesn't have much luck with women; his soon-to-be ex-wife Dorcas still curses him out over his cell phone. He's in love with a beautiful black lawyer, Yolanda Mosley-Jones, but she doesn't like white boys. He drives an old jalopy, fondly named "Secretariat" and regularly visits the grave of his friend Rosie Morelli who died during the arson fires that plagued Providence in DeSilva's high octane debut, Rogue Island.
Cliff Walk is riddled with violence, foul language and sexual situations but it also has a lot of humor, most of it provided by the smart-alecky Mulligan. The most hilarious scene in the novel is when DeLucca is describing to Mulligan the chaos that occurs inside Tongue and Groove when hundreds of men scramble and fight for one last piece of action before prostitution is outlawed. Reading Cliff Walk reminded me of downtown Portsmouth, Virginia, where I work; there is a stripper bar on practically every corner of George Washington Highway. Not everything that goes on in those bars is legal.
Readers will enjoy the unique setting of Cliff Walk, which consists primarily of the stark contrast between the low-class, down-trodden Providence and the more upscale, affluent Newport, which has its own battalion of vigilant patrol officers. One might say that a virtual wall or cliff exists between these two Rhode Island cities. Furthermore, the story’s timeline occurs primarily during the winter months when the bitterly cold, freezing weather becomes even more treacherous with falling snow.
Fans of bloody, violent noir, heavily laced with humor, will want to read DeSilva's Cliff Walk, the sequel to his award-winning debut, Rogue Island. I must warn readers that Cliff Walk has an open ending; therefore, another installment will have to be written in order for justice to prevail. Furthermore, I believe that mystery fans will have a better appreciation of Cliff Walk if they read Rogue Island first. Together, the two novels are the beginning of a highly promising series. The fast pacing, wide assortment of strange characters, witty humor and gruesome deaths make me forgive the author for his blatant attacks on my faith and politics. I would rather walk on a cliff than miss out on future sequels from Bruce DeSilva.