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Archive for the ‘Rhode Island’ Category

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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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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