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)
The inclusion of so many characters.
When the lawyer behind everything was eliminated.
I will buy his second book! In my wish kist.
Artist & Journeyman Composter
First let me mention the excellent, no, outstanding skills of the narrator who not only did gender differences well, but created the characters so distinctly you could see them. For a Californian, it was an introduction into an unknown culture: extreme East Coast, and in another way, a level
of society I ordinarily wouldn't choose.
Liam Mulligan is a tall, cigar smoking, good looking investigative reporter who thinks he's in good shape, with an avid fanship for the Red Sox, quick and frequent sense of humor, bulldog tenacity, loyalty, deep caring sense of family, place, & friendship, who loves enough about his life to carry him through the challenging job of finding out the truth about things and taking the consequences of revealing it. I wish I had him here to help me write this so you'll find it interesting, too.
The story is about a series of residential conflagrations powerful enough to rapidly incinerate
a whole house, including, horribly and sadly, the occupants, by the time the firetrucks arrive. He senses the story,and, knowing the police are either hamstrung, too slow or just poor detectives, does his own investigation, all the way to the end.
Perfectly interwoven is the hilarious harassment by his soon to be divorced wife, the Red Sox game series, a love affair, the fate of friends in the Fire Department, the hard handed and "Dumb and Dumber" police twins, his office mates,the demise of printed journalism, dinner at favorite various joints,the surprise friendship with Mason, son of the latest investor trying to save the newspaper, the corruption in high places, crime in low places, and interactions with numerous others who create a whole, pulsing, living small town, where Mulligan can greet people on the street because he knows them and they've known him since he's been a kid.
It IS a really good story, and is true to its' culture. It was actually an inoculation for me, being something of a goody two shoes, but I just didn't quite like the ending,as I need more happiness, but which really spoke to the courage of the hero, who can take consequences with big enough heart to be sad, but not really give up hope.
My headline pretty much says it. Liam is a old timey type of reporter with many colorful characters in his life. The story is fun because of the people in it. The plot is not totally inspired, but again, the characters make it great .
Have not read the print version and I am not a serial reader...well, I wasn't before this outstanding whodunit. I won't miss the remainder of the series, however.
Liam, an upstanding ROGUE with steel nerve and a cotton heart.
Excellent narration by Jeff Woodman, who is a new narrator for me. I will check him out for more books as he captured my admiration for this one.
I read it in one setting. I could not pull myself away.
Entertaining, realistic and well-written. I will now download the remainder of the series, which I hope continues for some time.
Tucked away in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico.
This was just an average book. Some good parts, some boring parts. Not a total waste of a credit, but nothing too exciting either. What can I say, the characters didn't draw me in or excite me.
Delightful book -- full of interesting characters, dark humor, and social/political commentary delivered with a deft touch. Terrific narrator -- local color is spot on. Oh, and a good story too. I even enjoyed some oblique potshots at my august alma mater. All in all, highly recommended.
Jeff Woodman nailed the Rhode Island accent. I cracked up on the subway when he did the main character disguising his voice on the phone. The first time I listened to a book he narrated it was Scottish, English, and Irish.
I liked hearing directly from the author why he wrote the book.
interested in history, science, and pulp fiction
This is a great update on the reporter as crime fighter trope - this isn't 'His Girl Friday,' it's a depressed newsroom with layoffs and budget cuts, and has a more unvarnished view of the journalism industry. The protagonist, Mulligan, has issues, of course, but also has an entertaining cast of acquaintances and sources, in varying shades of unsavory. The author does a great job of creating the look and feel of this town. This first is an excellent book, with a lot of heart. I recommend 'Cliff Walk' as well, a solid follow up.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book--but I doubt the paper version could compare. The performance is so wonderful, and the timing of lines so perfect that I don't believe I would have enjoyed it half as much if I hadn't listened to it on Audible. I would listen to it a second time if on a drive with my husband. Loved the baseball elements throughout.
Everything--as mentioned above. Accents are so important to the characters in this book. And the timing of the lines is perfect.
No--I enjoy prolonging the end of the best books I hear or read.
The language--Fword used as an adjective to most nouns--might bother some. But it created the characters so beautifully. Not a good choice if you are listening with children in the car! I do find that after I listen to a book like this I find myself cursing more often.
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
Let me get the narration and production out of the way first. Terrific. Okay, now for the plot... It works on every level. More twists than Whoopie Goldberg's locks. Characters? Every one, even those only on the phone... worked. And when I say worked... I meant the all did heavy lifting. This book made me want to cut out the world and just listen. Can't write more, I'm off to find the next Bruce DeSilva novel. Oh BTW... look at my reviews... I'm a HARD grader... and look... LOOK! FIVE STARS. Wheeeee.... :-)
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