Bruce DeSilva's Rogue Island is steeped in nostalgia; ostensibly set in the present, it mourns a dying (dead?) world where the newspaper journalists – embodied here by one Liam Mulligan - are campaigners for truth and justice, obstinately following leads from door to door, working round the clock to get their name on the by-line. The arson attacks that plague the city of Providence seem almost honest in their Luddite criminality compared with the real villains of the book: social media whiz kids and property developers, both of whom are guilty in DeSilva's eyes of erasing the past and bastardising once-familiar landscape.
A lot of modern crime writing stakes out new literary territory, consciously imbuing a previously-overlooked environment with a semi-mythological sense of possibility; Jonathan Lethem achieved this feat in Motherless Brooklyn. In Rogue Island, the geography comes with its own inferiority complex: the locally-set movie Dumb and Dumber is a repeated reference point. But DeSilva's Rhode Island is a rich creation, one which he seems to have looked backward in order to achieve. It's populated with a cast of characters that Damon Runyon would recognise: bookies and monsters, tough-talking editors. The one character with a modern job description is the son of the newspaper's publisher. Needless to say, Mulligan views him with contempt, although Woodman's sympathetic portrayal signals that he will emerge as one of the good guys.
Mulligan is a late-thirties Pulitzer-prize winner in a world where the print journalist is as anachronistic as the camel-coat wearing private detective, many of whose trappings Mulligan shares – a protracted adolescent with an ex-wife problem. Jeff Woodham's engaging portrayal fends off the bitterness that smudges the edges of the character. When Mulligan repeatedly calls the same number to chase a lead, Woodham's range of comic voices are a treat. He's at his most impassioned when Mulligan eulogises newspapers, "the only institution that people trust" – or rather, as the distinct shift of tone here makes clear, it's DeSilva who’s doing the eulogising. Dafydd Phillips
Liam Mulligan is as old school as a newspaper man gets. His beat is Providence, Rhode Island, and he knows every street and alley. He knows the priests and prostitutes, the cops and street thugs. He knows the mobsters and politicians - who are pretty much one and the same. Someone is systematically burning down the neighborhood Mulligan grew up in, people he knows and loves are perishing in the flames, and the public is on the verge of panic. With the police looking for answers in all the wrong places, and with the whole city of Providence on his back, Mulligan must find the hand that strikes the match.
BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction written and read by author Bruce DeSilva.
©2010 Bruce DeSilva (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"This tremendously entertaining crime novel is definitely one of the best of the year." (Booklist)
"The smallest state bursts with crime, corruption, wisecracks, and neo-noir atmosphere in Bruce DeSilva's blistering debut." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Rogue Island 'has raised the bar for all books of its kind.'" (The Dallas Morning News)
Soon after starting, I thought 'is this really worth one of my precious credits?' But I kept going and started to like it, and then a lot. It's not groundbreaking, but it's a well-written detective story, with great characters, not the least of whom is the narrator (a hard-bitten but likable old-school journalist, much, I expect, like Mr. DeSilva), rendered beautifully by Mr. Woodman (OK, a lapse of Rhode Island accent now and then, but never forced), with unexpected (at least to me) plot developments. It's very New England but would probably translate well to readers in other regions, especially Red Sox fans. I'd have upped the stars to fives, had "Deliverance" not just wrecked the curve. I hope Audible gives us the author's "Cliff Walk" soon.
A new author to me, happy to have come across this one as a Daily Deal. (So pleased with Audible for offering 'Daily Deals' -- it lets us test run new authors or genres without a major investment. I've found some awfully good listens this way -- new authors I'll be looking for in the future.)
Like this one: "Rogue Island" is a good solid detective story, lots of fascinating trivia about Rhode Island, which was fun -- who knew?
Downside? A little too much baseball lore. For those of us who don't either know or care much about professional sports, at times it felt like I was listening to someone else's conversation, most of which was going over my head. The names of players being tossed around were all foreign to me, and I kept wondering of there were clues there, that I was missing. (There may have been -- I still don't know.)
Another curious thing that puzzled me throughout the entire book: DeSilva has a lawyer character -- a bad apple -- playing a prominent role. He names this character "Brady Coyle", and has him based in Boston. Which is very strange, because the protagonist of the best-selling -- 24 books strong -- legal thriller/detective series by William Tapply is a Boston lawyer named Brady Coyle. Tapply's "Brady Coyle" is a good guy, big time. DeSilva's is a crook.
Why would a new author do that? Steal the name, profession and even home base of another author's well-known fictional character, but make his new character the exact opposite of the original one?
What? There aren't enough names to go around?
Funny, too, because until very recently, there was a triumvirate of detective fiction writers based more or less in Boston, who -- in real life -- were close friends: Tapply, Phillip R. Craig and his Martha's Vineyard series, and Rick Boyer with his Doc Adams tales. Tapply and Craig are now, sadly, deceased, Boyer is still writing. But because all three loved fishing, and because they write the same general genre, set in more or less the same locale, it was common for one writer's characters to appear, playing walk-on parts in another author's book. So Tapply's lawyer Coyle already had a reputation for turning up in Phillip Craig's books, and in those by Rick Boyer. Which meant that when DeSilva introduced his own "Brady Coyle" there was every reason to believe this WAS the same Tapply character -- except that it wasn't. A needless confusion, I'd say. No point to it at all.
Other than that, it was an enjoyable listen -- great narrator, too. I'll be looking for more by these two.
I enjoyed the opening chapters of this book a great deal, the dialog was very snappy and well done, the narration is great and the characters were eccentric and pulled the story out of the herd. Then, for some reason the story began to get stale, the story took no new direction, the bad guys were able to win the day and the references to baseball began to dominate the story to the point of distraction and irritation - nothing happened for a long stretch, just the main character hiding out at his Aunt's home watching T.V. and growing a beard, then just like that the ending is wrapped up with a tidy little solution and all is well.
This writer has some talent and some of the dialog is so well written it makes the book enjoyable but there is such a dead spot in the story i am not sure it is worth a top recommendation.
If you have been tempted by this book and it is in your wish list, and it is your genre take a chance on it, it is not a bad book, but not great either.
Reserved recalcitrant recommendation
What is great about this listen is Jeff Woodman's narration. He effortlessly goes from the New Yorkers flat drawl to an assortment of voices as he calls the same phone number serveral times in hopes of verification of a clue! Great fun.
The story is interesting and it underscores the newspapers struggle to publish while keeping up with current trends through an on line edition. At the same time our hero is dealing with an inept arson investigation, ongoing squabbles from his soon to be ex wife, training the bosses son and his personal life.
It is not a book that makes me say, "You really must read this!" but rather "It is an OK read"
I loved this book. The narrative is really fluid and the narrator does such a great job that it was like listening to a friend telling a real story, the book part became completely transparent. An amazing first novel, I look forward to read more from this author. Definitively recommended.
Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit
I liked this one out of the gate - a fast moving story with the kind of dialogue that I enjoy (kind of crude but not overly vulgar or gratuitous.) I'm usually not a fan of mysteries and I had no idea it was a mystery when I downloaded it - I have so many books on my wishlist and read through so many synopsis' before I choose one that sometimes I lose track of what I'm doing. When I figured out what it was, it already had it's hooks into me - and I was enjoying it enough to squash any inclination to toss it aside because of the genre. I'll add this one to my list of fortunate mistakes and give it a strong recommendation.
Myst/thrillers and ✨fun fantasies✨are my favorites but always open for a good story.
A home town RI reporter try's to use his familiarity with the big players, politicians and thugs to help find out who is committing arson in a specific neighborhood. He is estranged from his wife, in love with another gal who he works with and has an old high school friend in love with him. Along with his complicated love life he has a half pint-tough guy after him to drop the investigation. This man who is a foot shorter than he is, keeps getting the best of him by catching him off guard.
I thought that this story was pretty good and then all was lost when too much information was put into a very fast ending. It lost its timing for me. That being said, the writing and characters were well developed.
Speaker, Coach, Author - in Reno, NV (A GREAT place!) I've been an avid Audible fan for several years. Listen on my iPhone many hours each week.
OUTSTANDING and am thrilled that there are now two more in the series. Just downloaded #2 and am starting to listen tonight! Perfect narrator!
Here's a case where the audiobook format truly enhances the written word. Jeff Woodman delivers the narrative with the New England tone, cadence and humor that makes this a wonderful book to enjoy. Of course, the actual brilliance comes from the hand of the author Bruce DeSilva.
I'm hooked and going directly to use my credit for Cliff Walk!
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
I really like this fast-moving, interesting story! Crime, law, journalism and Rhode Island politics and mob life all mixed together to make a great read. LOVED the narrators, and found the characters to be well developed for the most part. This is a book worthy of your time if you love a good mystery story.
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