Marshal Zeringue of The Campaign for the American Reader asked me to write a guest blog explaining how I would cast a film version of The Dread Line, the fifth book in my Edgar Award-winning series of crime novels. Here’s what I sent him:
Since getting fired in spectacular fashion from his Rhode Island newspaper job last year (A Scourge of Vipers, 2015), Liam Mulligan is trying to piece together a new life—one that straddles both sides of the law. He’s getting some part-time work with his friend McCracken’s detective agency. He’s picking up beer money by freelancing for a local news website. And he’s looking after his semi-retired mobster-friend’s bookmaking business. But he’s still an anti-authoritarian with a strong but shifting sense of justice, he remains prone to ill-timed wisecracks, and of course, he still can’t seem to stay out of trouble.
In The Dread Line, he’s feuding with a feral cat that keeps leaving its kills on his porch. He’s obsessed with a baffling jewelry heist. And he’s enraged that someone in town is torturing animals. All of this keeps distracting him from a big case that needs his attention. The New England Patriots, still shaken by murder charges against their superstar tight end, have hired Mulligan and McCracken to investigate the background of a college athlete they are thinking of drafting. At first, the job seems routine, but as soon as they start asking questions, they get push-back. The player, it seems, has something to hide – and someone is willing to kill to make sure it remains secret.
The new novel has a colorful and quirky cast of characters, some new and others who were introduced in the first four novels in the series. Movie thrillers tend to be full of gunfights, car chases and explosions, but there’s not much of that in my novels; so I think my books may be better suited to be turned into a character-driven television crime drama such as The Sopranos, Justified, or Ray Donovan.
I’ve always thought that Boston-raised actor Denis Leary (Rescue Me) embodies the smart mouth and bad attitude toward authority that is Mulligan; but my character is a youthful 45, and Leary may be getting a bit old for the role.
Lately, I’ve been picturing Liev Schreiber as Mulligan. He’s got the bad attitude part down cold, and in Showtime’s Ray Donovan, one of the best shows on television, he’s adopted a convincing New England accent.
The rest of the cast:
Kerry Washington (Scandal) as attorney Yolanda Mosely-Jones, Mulligan’s love interest. She embodies Yolanda’s elegance and intelligence—and I think my hero deserves a woman like her.
Michael Chiklis (The Shield) as Bruce McCracken, Mulligan’s tough-as-nails boss at the detective agency.
Rob Gronkowski (of the New England Patriots) as Conner Bowditch, the football prospect Mulligan investigates. Gronk may lack acting experience, but all he has to do is be himself.
Steve Schirripa (The Sopranos) as Joseph DeLucca, Mulligan’s thuggish, smarter-than-he-looks friend, who is helping run the bookmaking business. Schirripa has both the right look and the perfect working-class manner of speaking.
Hugh Laurie (Veep) as Ellington Cargill, the arrogant billionaire whose jewelry is stolen in the heist Mulligan investigates—while not really caring if the creep ever gets it back.
Jason Beghe (Chicago PD) and Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) as the homicide twins, two Providence cops who have it in for Mulligan. They both know how to give somebody a hard time.
Robert De Niro (what hasn’t he been in?) as slimy, smooth-talking sports agent Morris Dunst.
John Francis Daley (Bones) as Mulligan’s young news biz pal, Edward Anthony Mason III, AKA Thanks-Dad. Like Thanks-Dad, he conveys a misleading naivety that makes him easy to underestimate.
Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds) as Chief Ragsdale, the over-his-head small-town police chief on the island of Jamestown, where some of the action takes place.\
And Bruce DeSilva as Carmine Grasso, Rhode Island’s biggest mobbed-up fence, because it’s a small part so I should be able to remember my lines.
The Dread Line is the fifth book in the Edgar Award-winning series of hardboiled crime novels by Bruce DeSilva. In it, New England Patriots, still shaken by a series of murder charges against one of their star players (true story) have hired Liam Mulligan, the hero of the novels, to investigate the background of a college star they are thinking of drafting. At first, the job seems routine, but as soon as he starts asking questions, he gets push-back. The player has something to hide, and someone is willing to kill to make sure it remains secret.
To order The Dread Line, you can choose from a list of independent or chain online bookstores here.