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)
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.
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.
The voice of the protagonist did not fit his character. It was sort of Phillip Marlow meets Fletch. The sort of thing Dennis Lehane might have written in high school. He really wore out somewhat clever phrases and names. Calling his Bronco, Secretariat the whole book was a bit much. It was cute calling his cub reporter, Thanks Dad got old pretty quick. The plot was inventive and the author created some very good characters.
Rosie and Veronica were good characters. They were strong and believable. Their dialogue rang true.
Not if Jeff Woodman was doing the first person voice of a 39 year old Pulitzer prize winning, jaded anyone. It was like Justin Bieber reads Mike Hammer.
Hope Bruce Silva keeps writing, the plot was good.
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.
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
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.
This first novel is clever, the characters are well developed and sometimes hilarious, and the descriptions of life in Providence, RI are not to be missed if you are from New England. The plot is well developed with a surprising and satisfying conclusion. The narration is excellent and fast paced. A must read, very unlike the bestseller formulaic mysteries you see prominently displayed at the bookstore-- and minus the gore. I laughed many times at the dialogue and you will too!
Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
When you live in California, Rhode Island is a rarely thought of, very distant, very small state. It seems somehow mysterious, with its deep inlets, islands and bays that give a very small place (its area is roughly 28 miles by 40 miles) almost 400 miles of coastline.
When I listened to Bruce DeSilva's "Rogue Island" (2010), I realized that the state's stubborn secretiveness and in-your-face independence is intrinsic. Liam Mulligan, DeSilva's locally born and raised investigative reporter, knows everyone, or knows someone who does. In a state of just over a million people, there's really only one degree of separation - no plot tropes needed.
Mulligan fits some of the hard-boiled stereotypes. Drinks Maker's Mark, when he's not babying an ulcer with club soda. Smokes Cuban cigars, smuggled in by an old neighborhood friend who's a bookie. Loves, loves, loves the Boston Red Sox - which is an endless lesson in hope, rarely followed by anything but crushing disappointment. The hopelessness mirrors the dying newspaper Mulligan writes for.
Mulligan's women fit the hardboiled detective/fiction noir stereotypes. The femme fatale. The oversexed best buddy. The amazon warrior. They are cutout characters, and sometimes interchangeable. A few times I had to think carefully about a girl's background to remember her part in the story.
I got a kick out of some of the quirks of some very minor characters. I was amused by the paranoid, stalking, swearing and often heard but never seen ex-wife Dorcas.
Jeff Woodman's accent sounded pure Eastern Massachusetts to me, which makes sense - Providence, RI is 50 miles from Boston.
I'll definitely read/listen to more in the series.
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This is an entertaining book to listen to. I couldn't tell what I liked better, the RI accent in the narration or the fast moving, fun and tantalizing story that Mr DeSilva wrote. His characters are unique and his description of the little known RI details, that you wouldn't know unless you lived there, are so spot on, I found myself smiling through most of the book, if not out right laughing. I can't wait to download the next one and be entertained some more.
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