Normally I don’t select such a recent book for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott. In this case, I made an exception because this book is really good and I will be reviewing the sequel, CLIFF WALK: A MULLIGAN NOVEL tomorrow. It all began here with Rogue Island. As you can tell from the original review I had concerns, with the way publishing is today, this might be a one book deal. I’m sure winning the 2011 Edgar and Macavity Awards helped make sure that didn’t happen. Rightfully so as this book and series is really good.
This debut novel by Bruce DeSilva is getting a lot of attention and rightfully so. Not just because, as has been done in several recent novels, the ongoing demise of the newspaper industry plays a central role. The main theme of the book, chasing an arsonist burning buildings and killing people, is a good one with plenty of twists and turns.
Liam Mulligan is your classic newspaper reporter. He knows everybody on all sides of his beat. When he isn't working or fielding abusive calls from his someday ex-wife, he hangs out at the local bars and with his bookie and smokes cigars every chance he gets. He finds time to chase stories such as the one about an arsonist who is burning down one building at a time in the small neighborhood known as Mount Hope located in Providence, Rhode Island. The latest fire took five-year old twins to an early death the hard way and he wants to work the story.
Instead, his editor would rather Mulligan work on a story about a dog who supposedly followed his owners from the west coast all the way to Rhode Island. The dog’s family is hungry for media attention and is threatening to give the story to one of the local TV stations and Mulligan’s editor does not want that. The editor wants good news fluff stories to try and keep circulation numbers up and he wants Mulligan to get the dog story done and done now.
Beside the fact that the dog story is implausible at best, Mulligan wants to see an end to the fires and the deaths. He grew up in the neighborhood, an old friend is on the front lines as a fire fighter, and people are dying. The stupid dog story can wait.
Chasing the arson story soon makes him a target for his angry bosses at the paper, a fire bug that won't quit, and local fire investigators who hold a grudge and decide he is a suspect. As buildings burn and bodies pile up, Mulligan works hard to stay alive and identify those behind the fires before the carnage takes everybody he loves.
This debut novel is a bit dark at times which is not surprising considering the illustrious list of authors acknowledged in the back of the book. Either inspiration or direct involvement, those mentioned are some of the best in the business and they don’t write light fluff featuring feel good stories where everything is perfect in the end.
One hopes that this novel full of colorful detailed characters, plenty of action, love of baseball and the Red Sox, as well as a mighty good mystery tale is the start of a series. It would be hard to imagine all this potential being used for used for just one stand-alone novel as the reservoir is deep with these characters. No mention is made on the jacket copy of another book, either as a sequel or something else, and one hopes that there is more to come from Mr. DeSilvia. Good stuff and well worth your time.
A Tom Doherty Associates Book
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. Times remain very hard for libraries so please do your part to support public libraries any way you can.