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A Scourge of Vipers (Liam Mulligan) by Bruce DeSilva
Cover Artist: Getty Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Forge Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765374318
Date: 07 April 2015 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Liam Mulligan's career as an investigative reporter for Rhode Island's The Dispatch is nearly dead. His asinine boss, Charles Twisdale, has him writing filler material for a newspaper consisting mostly of advertisements. When his lifelong friend, Fiona McNerny, a former nun who is now the governor, decides to legalize sports gambling, Mulligan's career is given a jumpstart. The controversial legislation launches a war between Democrats and Republicans and liberals and conservatives. Soon afterwards, the corpse of a shot and battered man is found floating in the Blackstone River. Then a professional hit man, Lucan Alfano, with a suitcase full of bribe money, is killed in a plane crash. As Mulligan scrambles to identify the floater and his killer, he is framed for another man's murder while simultaneously trying to avoid his own.

Mulligan finds himself neck-deep in human snakes in Bruce DeSilva's highly political, highly controversial mystery, A Scourge of Vipers (following Providence Rag, Cliff Walk and the excellent debut, Rogue Island). Because of Fiona's proposed legislation to legalize sports gambling, Mulligan's life becomes hellish. Everyone, it appears, is out to hurt him. He doesn't know who to trust. Legalizing sports gambling doesn't seem to be the solution to the state's budget crisis. It appears to be another crisis until itself. Some mobsters from the states where sports gambling is legal don't want the competition; other mobsters want sports gambling legalized but want the collection of money privatized instead of state run so they may obtain a piece of the action. Representatives from the various sports associations, such as the NBA, NFL, NHL, etc., don't want sports gambling legalized. Neither do certain religious affiliations.

The country's economic downturn that has been dragging on for many years is bringing out the worst in everyone. Even Mulligan is thinking of becoming a bookmaker and taking over for his friend Whoosh (Dominic Zerilli) who wants to retire and move to Florida. (The world's waiting room for the dying.) He doesn't appear to have any qualms about it. He does, however, donate money to someone in need when he receives an out-of-court settlement.

Overall, Mulligan is a good man. He still visits the grave of a friend, Rosella Isabella Morelli. He is still trying to seriously date Yolanda Mosley-Jones, a highly successful lawyer, who has issues with them being an interracial couple. Mulligan remains very athletic; as part of a publicity stunt for his newspaper, he tries out for a basketball team, the Vipers. Furthermore, Mulligan and I have something in common. We both like snakes as pets. I've had various king snakes. He adopts a garter snake he finds in his apartment. This novel is appropriately titled A Scourge of Vipers.

The novel's body count is not as high as I would have liked it to have been. Violence takes a backseat to the political intrigue and drama. I never realized until now how much chaos one piece of legislature could cause. This novel also has touches of romance, implied sex, and human drama. There is also a lot of laugh-out-loud hilarity. Mulligan has his usual witty humor. However, I think the author, Bruce DeSilva, uses certain characters to voice his anti-Republican viewpoints, which is fine with me. Also, popular DJ, Iggy Rock, refers to her as the "slut governor" and Mulligan as her "disgraced boy-toy".

The only thing A Scourge of Vipers lacks is closure. The person (or persons) responsible for the deaths of two victims is never revealed. Perhaps, events will be made clearer in the sequel, which I can hardly wait to read.

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