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)
If you enjoy inane chatter from dull characters then this book is for you. For the first five chapters I couldn’t decide if it was the narrator, slow storyline, or the dull characters that made me want to turn my ipod off. But I stuck with it and by the end of the tenth chapter I decided it was all of the aforementioned issues plus the main character is a guy that even his mother couldn’t stand. The guy has cutesy names for his car, wife, and who knows what else. The author takes great pains to explain the obvious to the reader/listener?
In the introduction the author states that Evan Hunter sent him a note advising him to write a novel based upon reading a “nice little story” he had written. Hunter was wrong. Here’s a note for the author, "you should have written the dog story." It had to be better than this story.
Home run on story, voice(s) and pat on the back for selecting this book, which was multiply honored for a debut series.
Loved the narrator's gift for dialogue and dialect.
hard to pick: many were stellar depictions of wiseguys, etc.
I no longer live in Worcester. I now live in Brooklyn, NY.
I went to school in "Rowd island" and I think the accent is technically ok but overdone. Take away the accent and what is left? Don't see how it would fly on the printed page.
Nothing unexpected...I won't listen to the next book..
Great characters, real detail about newsrooms today and the background of Providence.
I liked the feel of the town and of Rhode Island's weird and wonderful politics.
There are only two in the series so far and I liked them both. I'll buy the next one for sure. Haven't been this enthusiastic since I first discovered the Spenser novels. The narrator has the right accent for Providence.
This was a great book to listen to while on the road. The story line is well developed and most of the characters are believable. It was neither life-changing nor though-provoking, but a great way to pass the time. Part of that character development is due to the skill of the narrator. He did a great job with the various voices and accents. The accents were present, but not overwhelming or stereotypical.
This is a good series. I enjoy the character and the narrator is great. Its a short listen, which I neither like or dislike. I would like more, but the story isn't missing anything so I am on the fence. Can't wait for more from DeSilva.
Certified bookworm since 1962
This novel tries too hard to be a hard-boiled film-noir novel and it fails miserably. It's a cheap imitation with a main character that is so unlikable that you'd like to see him get hit way before the book is over. Want a good read in this type of genre? Read some Jim Thompson, or early James Ellroy, or Richard Stark or Charles Bukowski or Dashiell Hammett.
Decent plot, interesting vignettes about Rhode Island, shallow characters,difficult to accept the story line, and not read by a very good reader.
Seems the author is trying too hard to be a skirt chasing, tough talking, lover of movie cliches (who can't understand why younger people don't know the lines from old movies) reporter. A little too much objectifying of women for my taste. Decent plot, and I finished it, which is saying something, but I probably won't read any more from this author. (I love books and 3 stars is about as low as I go unless the book is written by Ann Coulter or something, which of course I'd never read.)
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