Archive for the ‘Bruce DeSilva’ Category

Kate Waters, a reporter, needs a good story. In this online world, this seasoned reporter is relegated to editing other reporters’ stories. The laurels of her previous great story wore off years ago.


Angela Irving wants to know what happened to her newborn daughter. Leaving her in her crib in her hospital room after visiting hours and going off to shower, she returned to find the bassinet empty. That was 1975.

Emma Massingham????? is afraid the police will find out what she did and arrest her.

So, when a newborn baby’s bones are found under an urn on a concrete patio that is being demolished, everyone has an interest. Forensics determines that the bones are around 40 years old but the detritus around the body suggest it was buried 10 years later. Where could it have been for those 10 years?

The Child by Fiona Barton, author of The Widow (like those 2 word titles?) is a good read. It’s got an interesting premise. It’s populated with good, solid characters and it keeps the action flowing. Kate Waters also plays a role in The Widow and she’s a good character to build a series around. She’s the female equivalent of Bruce DeSilva’s Liam Mulligan, a reporter lamenting the fate of the newspaper industry, hard driving and undeterred.

If you want a good mystery that will keep you guessing, The Child is a good place to start.



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I am a Bruce DeSilva/Liam Mulligan fan so it saddens me to say that The Dread Line was disappointing. Liam Mulligan, newspaper reporter turned private investigator, is working on three cases simultaneously: a jewel robbery from a local bank, a person who sets live dogs on fire (how the heck DeSilva thought of that one is beyond me, but it’s sick) and performing a thorough background check on a potential NFL draft pick. None of these individually is overly interesting so the combination of the three doesn’t make them any better.

What I also found disconcerting was the time span on the book. The three cases took roughly nine months, which would be unusual for any case, especially a background check, no matter how thorough. And talk about contrived endings–the conclusion of each case was totally out of the blue.

The Dread Line contains none of the lamentations about the demise of printed newspapers, none of the repartee between Mulligan and his former boss/nemesis “Thanks Dad” Mason and none of the action or suspense that earned DeSilva an Edgar Award for best first novel for Rogue Island. The characters are shallow. The best characters are Brady and Rondo, the two dogs Mulligan rescues from an animal shelter. And while dogs are normally cute, they shouldn’t be the ones carrying the book.

So, unfortunately DeSilva does not live up to his potential in The Dread Line. I will anxiously await his next book in the hopes that he finds his groove again.

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It’s tough when your competition are masters of the trade. Ed McBain and MurderDCMichael Connelly are the masters of police procedurals. Kathy Reichs is the master of forensic anthropology. The crown goes to Arnaldur Indridason for Icelandic mysteries and Thomas H. Cook for literary mysteries. And the head honcho for journalistic mysteries is Bruce DeSilva.

So, while Neely Tucker’s journalistic mysteries, which take place in Washington, D. C., are readable, they don’t live up to the bar set by Mr. DeSilva. In Murder, D. C. Billy Ellison, the son of a prominent Black family in Washington, is found washed up on the shore of the The Bend, the former site of slave trading and currently a run-down park used primarily for drug deals. Sully Carter, reporter for ‘the newspaper’, is the journalist on the scene. Initial interviews with Billy’s mother and her employer, the prominent lawyer, Sheldon Stevens, portray Billy as a boy who had everything. However, as Sully gathers more facts, they soon change their tune, stating Billy was gay and was dealing drugs in a big way. Private investigators hired by Stevens seem to be making as little progress as the police in solving Billy’s murder.

WaysOfTheDeadThose readers who met Sully in The Ways of the Dead, know he’s a likable character. He drinks a bit…well maybe a lot. He was reporting the war in Bosnia when he got wounded and has the scars and limp to prove it. He has a good working relationship with the police as well as one of the major drug dealers in the metropolitan area. And once he gets hold of something, he rarely, if ever, lets go. So, when things don’t make sense, Sully keeps plugging away, regardless of how many times he gets beaten up, suspended from work, etc.

However, Sully Carter doesn’t have the edge and cynicism of Bruce DeSilva’s Liam Mulligan. In addition, the turmoil that the news industry is going through is totally ignored. This is surprising in that Tucker is a journalist, a staff writer at the Washington Post.

The plot of Murder, D.C. is good. The characters are good. You’ll enjoy reading Murder, D.C. I just think you’ll enjoy the Bruce DeSilva/Liam Mulligan mysteries more.

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I became a Bruce deSilva fan from his first book, Rogue Island, and his ScourgeOfVipersfour book Liam Mulligan series hasn’t let me down. Fans of Mulligan will know that he is long-time friends with Fiona McNerney, a former nun who now is the governor of Rhode Island. Despite her former vows, she and Mulligan share a repartee filled with sexual innuendo, primarily about his underwear.

In his latest foray, Scourge of the Vipers, Mulligan is working for a new boss, Charles Twisdale, since The Dispatch has been sold. The new corporate owner cares less about the news and more about the bottom line, thus the staff has been dramatically cut. His respect or lack thereof for Twisdale, who he calls Chuckie, and the new owners, is evident.

Rhode Island is facing a budget deficit and in order to shore up the state’s finances McNerney (aka Attila the Nun) is proposing to legalize sports betting and have it run by the state’s Lottery Commission. The mob’s not keen on the idea since it will eat into its bookmaking business. The sports oversight groups such as the NCAA oppose the plan saying it will open up games to dishonesty. Private gambling businesses seeing a potential windfall, would rather betting be privatized so they, rather than the state, reap the benefits.

When Atlantic City mobsters start appearing in Providence with bag loads of cash, presumably to buy off legislators, the veteran newspaper reporter starts to investigate. When dead bodies start appearing, Mulligan soon becomes a prime suspect in several murders.

Two subplots include a local pro basketball team auditioning walkons to fill some slots. Mulligan, a fairly decent player, is asked to try out by Twisdale and report on it for the paper. Also, Whoosh Morelli, an old friend and bookmaker, is planning on retiring and suggests Mulligan consider taking over the business.

As usual, Mulligan bemoans the fate of newspaper journalism specifically and the democratic process in general. As an illustration, Mulligan’s innuendo driven conversation with Fiona, whose office has been bugged, is illegally recorded and, snippets taken out of context issued to the media by a misguided Super PAC officer. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and whoever has the money rules.

BruceDesilvaUnfortunately, some of the characters we’ve come to know and love only make brief appearances in Scourge of the Vipers. Mason, the son of the newspaper’s former owner, has started his own internet newspaper. Mulligan’s photographer colleague has gone elsewhere. However, that doesn’t detract from the total enjoyment of the book.

I like books that have a good balance of romance, action, snappy repartee and social commentary, and the Liam Mulligan series fits that bill.

(And tell me that DeSilva doesn’t look just like a mystery writer!)

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January is time for the Edgar Award nominations. Of course, true to form, I’ve read relatively few, but here are my thoughts on the few I did read.

Best Novel:


Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash – Unlike his previous book, The Land More Kind than Home, I didn’t love Dark Road to Mercy. I’d be interested in your views.




CopTownCop Town by Karin Slaughter – I really liked Cop Town I thought it was well written and a great story. Not only does it have a murder, but it deals with sexual inequality, bigotry and religious  bias.




I must admit though, that there are books published in 2014 by Bruce DeSilva (Providence Rag), John Harvey (Darkness, Darkness), Archer Mayer (Proof Positive), for example, that should have been on the list.


Best First Novel:

InvisibleCityInvisible City by Julia Dahl – This is the only one I read from the list and I loved it. The story was unique. The characters were good. I love mysteries set in New York. Great all around. By all means it is worthy.



Best Young Adult Mystery:


Fake ID by Lamar Giles – As with Invisible City, Fake ID was the only Young Adult Mystery I read that was nominated. Again it is totally worthy.




So along with a 50 best all time mystery list, I now have a whole new list to work through. I’m betting you do as well.

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WaysOfTheDeadSully Carter is a newspaper man. He’s covered wars throughout the world and been hit with shrapnel, which has left its traces on him. He now covers crime in Washington, D.C. When the body of Sarah Reese, daughter of a Superior Court judge (and potential nominee for Supreme Court Justice) David Reese, is found in a dumpster behind a convenience store in the bad part of town, police from multiple agencies, local and federal, start investigating. The fact that over the past two years, several girls in their 20s have gone missing or have been found murdered within a five block radius have not stirred the police to investigate because those girls were Black, took drugs and some performed sex for money.

Sully happens to be close to the local drug lord/all around thug, Sly, who is not happy that the police are snooping around his neighborhood. It’s not good for business. They agree to trade information in the hopes that the killer will be caught quickly and the police move on to other crimes and neighborhoods. Are they truly sharing information?

Unfortunately, there  is bad blood between Sully and Reese, which in the eyes of the editors, will cloud Sully’s judgment as he investigates. Additionally, Sully has been hitting the bottle lately.

Such is the plot summary for The Ways of the Dead, Neely Tucker’s debut novel. Tucker, as well as his character, are experienced journalists. Sully is a moderately endearing character but his relationship with Sly seems a bit out of character. While I realize that journalists may cultivate some unsavory relationships, for me this one didn’t work and I’m not sure why. The newspaper’s editors, as well, didn’t have that hard hitting edge one would expect of high level editors. I think part of this results from the fact that I’m a big fan of Bruce DeSilva’s Liam Mulligan series. That, too, is newspaper themed. I like the characters, the setting, the cynicism, the political asides. The Ways of the Dead pales in comparison with regard to these aspects of the book.

The Ways of the Dead is a reasonable read. You’ll definitely want to finish it. Whether or not I’ll jump at the chance to read Tucker’s next book remains to be seen.


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ProvidenceRagThis third installment in the Liam Mulligan series is just as good as the first two. All the old characters are back: Mulligan, Edward Anthony “Thanks-Dad” Mason, Gloria, Ed Lomax. Providence Rag is inspired by (not based on) two of Rhode Island’s most notorious murder cases, according to the author.

Two brutal serial killers have served their sentences and are up for parole. One is in his 70s and dying from heart disease. The chances of him committing another murder is minimal. The other is in his thirties and has shown no remorse. The probability is high that he will strike again. What do you do? Let him go free? Fabricate incidents in jail that would extend his stay?BruceDeSilva

What do you do if you find evidence that false incidents were reported that, indeed did extend his term? Publication of this evidence will accelerate parole. But you’re a reporter, held to a higher standand. You report the truth, despite the results. Right?

Mulligan and Mason go head to head on this subject. As with each book in the Mulligan series, you can’t put it down. You want to find out what happens, who wins? The main characters in this series are great. All different. All human. While the story wrapped up a little too neatly, a little to quick, the journey to get there couldn’t have been better.

I’m always looking for a new mystery series with not too many books so it won’t take me forever to catch up. This is the perfect series. Three great books. Fast reads. Cerebral instead of action packed. And hey, how many mysteries take place in Rhode Island? Rogue Island. Cliff Walk. Providence Rag.



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There are some people who look like mystery writers and Bruce DeSilva is one of them, although I would have taken him for a Southern gentleman from his attire (it’s the hat). His first novel, Rogue Island, received rave reviews and, always on the lookout for a new mystery author, I was eager to read it. I am now a Bruce DeSilva fan and was the first one to reserve a copy of his latest book, Cliff Walk. By the way, DeSilva won the 2011 Edgar Award for Best First Novel for Rogue Island, so you know it’s good.

How a murder in Newport, RI and finding miscellaneous body parts of children in pig slop come together makes for quite the entertaining story, although the child pornography aspect of the book can get a little grusome.

DeSilva has created great characters: Mulligan, an old time newspaper reporter (who laments the demise of the newspaper industry) is the crime solver. His soon-to-be ex-wife, Dorcas, provides comic relief, which is definitely needed at times. Thanks-Dad is Mulligan’s side-kick, the son of the newspaper’s owner who wants to learn the business. The ensemble of editors, police chiefs, etc. round out an all star cast.

The book moves quickly. There’s plenty of action but also plenty of story and sentiment. I can picture his books being optioned for TV movies.

In trying to find a photo of DeSilva, I happened upon a mystery website, Mysterious Writers, and a good interview with him. So, here’s the link to it:


If you’re looking for a good mystery to while away the hours, start with Rogue Island and keep going with Cliff Walk.

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