Bruce DeSilva Interviewed By NECN

Sue O’Connell of the New England Cable News Network interviewed me about my early brush with the pedophile priest scandal — and also about my latest crime novels. You can watch it here.

A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva is the fourth in my Edgar Award-winning series of hardboiled crime novels featuring Liam Mulligan, an investigative reporter for a dying newspaper in Providence, R.I.  The novel has received rave reviews in The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and a host of other publications. You can order any of the books in the series from independent or chain online bookstores by following this link.

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Who’s Reading “A Scourge of Vipers” Now? It’s Grammy Winner Tom Hambridge

Tom Hambridge reading my novel, "A Scourge of Vipers."

Tom Hambridge reading my novel, “A Scourge of Vipers.”

Tom Hambridge is a blues solo artist and record producer who won a 2011 Grammy Award for writing and producing Buddy Guy’s album, Living Proof. You can learn more about Tom and his work here.

I caught up with him last fall on a blues cruise, and that’s when I snapped this picture.

My wife Patricia Smith and I love the blues, so it’s no surprise that Liam Mulligan, the hero of my series of crime novels is a fan, too. He often plays the music of Tommy Castro, Son Seals, Jimmy Thackery, and other blues artists as he drives around New England looking for trouble.

And Thackery allowed me to use his great song, Levee Prayer, as the sound track for the video trailer for my first novel.

A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva is the fourth in my Edgar Award-winning series of hardboiled crime novels featuring Liam Mulligan, an investigative reporter for a dying newspaper in Providence, R.I.  The novel has received rave reviews in The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and a host of other publications. You can order any of the books in the series from independent or chain online bookstores by following this link.

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I Got An Early Tip About A Priest’s Sex Abuse — And I Sat On It.

spotlight-one-sheetA few days ago, I wrote a blog post explaining why watching the movie Spotlight, the Oscar-winning film about the investigation of sexual abuse in Boston’s Catholic Church, made me feel guilty. The Washington Post asked me to expand it into an entry for their Outlook section.

They just posted it online, and it will appear in the print edition on Sunday. You can read it here.

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A Great New Book About Mafia Boss Vincent Gigante

Larry McShane

Larry McShane

You’ve probably heard of The Chin, Vincent Gigante, the long-time head of New York’s Genovese Crime Family, who spent years pretending to be insane in order to escape federal prosecution. But his full story has never been told – until now.

The book is Chin: the Life and Times of Mafia Boss Vincent Gigante, and lucky for us, the man telling the story is Larry McShane, a former New York Daily News staffer who is currently a columnist at The Daily Beast. Larry is a damned fine reporter and one hell of a writer. I know this first-hand because we worked together for a few years at the Associated Press, but just don’t take my word for it.

Those raving about the new book include George Anastasia, author of Gotti’s Rules, ex-FBI agent Joe (Donnie Brasco) Pistone, and Pete Hamill – three men who certainly know about these things. Hamill, for one, says “McShane tells the story that remains full of astonishment and a kind of dark wonder.”

Here’s a quick summary from the book jacket:

“He started out as a professional boxer–until he found his true calling as a ruthless contract killer. His doting mother’s pet name for the boy evolved into his famous alias, “Chin,” a nickname that struck fear throughout organized crime as he routinely ordered the murders of mobsters who violated the Mafia code–including a contract put out on Gambino family boss John Gotti.

chin“Vincent Gigante was hand-picked by Vito Genovese to run the Genovese Family. Chin raked in more than $100 million for the Genovese family, all while evading federal investigators. At the height of his power, he controlled an underworld empire of close to three hundred made men, extending from New York’s Little Italy to the docks of Miami to the streets of Philadelphia–making the Genovese Family the most powerful in the U.S.

“And yet Vincent “Chin” Gigante was, to all outside appearances, certifiably crazy.

“A serial psychiatric hospital outpatient, he wandered the streets of Greenwich Village in a ratty bathrobe and slippers, sometimes adding a floppy cap to complete the ensemble. He urinated in public, played pinochle in storefronts, and hid a second family from his wife. On twenty-two occasions, he admitted himself to a mental hospital–evading criminal prosecution while insuring his continued reign as “The Oddfather.” It took nearly thirty years of endless psychiatric evaluations by a parade of puzzled doctors for federal authorities to finally bring him down.

“This is an American Mafia story unlike any other–a strange and shocking account of one man’s rise to power that’s as every bit as colorful and bizarre as the man himself.”

You can buy it here.

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Who’s Reading “A Scourge of Vipers” Now? It’s Bluesman Tommy Castro!

Tommy CastroFifteen years ago, while visiting Chicago, my wife Patricia Smith and I wanted to take in some live music at one of the city’s remaining blues clubs. We checked the listings and learned that The Tommy Castro Band was appearing at Buddy Guy’s club, Legends.

“Tommy Castro?” I said. “Never heard of him.”

“Neither have I,” Patricia said, “but to play at Legends, you have to audition for Buddy, so how bad could he be?”  When we pushed through the door that night, the place was packed, and by the time the band finished their first number, “If I had a Nickel,” Tommy owned us.

Sine then we’ve been buying all of his CDs and catching him live every chance we can. We admire his fine guitar playing, his soulful voice, his charismatic stage presence, his covers of classic blues songs, and most of all of his own compositions — songs like “Lucky in Love,” “Just a Man,” “Right as Rain,” and many more.

So it came as no surprise to us that Liam Mulligan, the fictional hero of my hardboiled crime novels, turned out to be a big Tommy Castro fan, too. In the very first book, Mulligan took to playing Tommy’s CDs as he cruised around Rhode Island looking for trouble.

Tommy took notice, reading the first novel, Rogue Island, and commenting on it on his website, which you can visit here.

Tommy Castro performing on the Blues Cruise

Tommy Castro performing on the Blues Cruise

We caught up with Tommy and his latest band, The Painkillers, on a blues cruise last fall. The first thing he did was ask after our girl Mikaila, now almost 21, who we started bringing to his shows when she was just five years old. We chatted about our families, his music, and my writing, and that’s when I snapped these photos.

“Why the blues?” Mulligan asks himself in the next  novel, The Dread Line, which will be published next fall. “Why was I always drawn to music about hard times at the bottom of a shot glass? The music of the scorned and shattered. At the end of most every day—even the ones that didn’t involve shaking a tail, tracking down thieves, or staring at a broken body—I’d lean back with a glass of something bitter and drown in Koko Taylor’s growl, Buddy Guy’s soulful riffs, or the vibing wire of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar. Just like my dad did before the cancer took him. He’d come through the door, exhausted from another day of delivering milk, put a scratchy Son Seals album on the turntable, pull out his Comet harmonica, and play along. Like him, I belonged to the downtrodden tribe that turns misery into music—the kind of music that warns us what the world is like and steels us against it. My old job as an investigative reporter, like my new one as a detective, was to probe the dark hearts we pray against. I’d locked eyes with murderers. Wondered, more than once, if something rotten was eating away at me, turning me into the very thing that I fear. Then the twang of a blues guitar would fill the room, preaching that even in the darkest of times, the idea of light exists—and that the purpose of life is just to live it.”

A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva is the fourth in my Edgar Award-winning series of hardboiled crime novels featuring Liam Mulligan, an investigative reporter for a dying newspaper in Providence, R.I.  The novel has received rave reviews in The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and a host of other publications. You can order any of the books in the series from independent or chain online bookstores by following this link.

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Who’s Reading “A Scourge of Vipers” Now? It’s Mississippi Bluesman Theodis Ealey!

Bluesman Theodis Ealey reading Bruce DeSilva's crime novel, "A Scourge of Vipers."

Bluesman Theodis Ealey reading Bruce DeSilva’s crime novel, “A Scourge of Vipers.”

Theodis Ealey is a blues singer, guitar player and song writer who has performed with the likes of Little Milton, Johnny Clyde Copeland, the Blues Brothers, and the ‘legendary’ Charles Brown.

He traces his love of music to a childhood living across from Miss Willie Mae’s Juke Joint in Natchez, Mississippi. “I would just sit on the steps and listen to the sounds coming from there”– the heart and soul of the blues. You can learn more about him and his work here.

My wife Patricia and I met Theodis on a blues cruise last fall, and that’s when I snapped the picture.

Liam Mulligan, the hero of my Edgar Award-winning series of crime novels, loves the blues as much as I do, listening to the likes of Buddy Guy, Tommy Castro, Jimmy Thackery and others as he cruises around New England looking for trouble. And Roomful of Blues, a band fronted by my buddy Phil Pemberton, has made an appearance in two of the novels.

A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva is the fourth book in the series, which has received rave reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and a host of other publications. You can order any of them from independent or chain online bookstores by following this link.

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Coming Soon: “The Dread Line,” The Third Novel In The Mulligan Crime Series

ARCsReview copies of the fifth book in my series of Edgar Award-winning crime novels arrived today! That’s always when a project finally starts to feel like a real book.

The new novel, The Dread Line, won’t be published until September. The main plot has my protagonist doing some detective work for The New England Patriots, with Bill Belichick himself making a cameo appearance. So the publisher wants to release it at the start of the NFL season.

But you can place advance orders here.

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Who’s Reading “A Scourge of Vipers?” It’s Music Sensation Shun Ng!

Blues singer and guitarist Shun Ng reading Bruce DeSilva's novel, "A Scourge of Vipers"

Blues singer and guitarist Shun Ng reading Bruce DeSilva’s novel, “A Scourge of Vipers”

Shun Ng is young guitar player of uncommon skill and originality with a voice that Magic Dick describes as a cross between James Brown and Michael Jackson. Don’t believe it? Check THIS out.

I first met him last fall on a blues cruise, which is when I snapped this photo. You can learn more about him and his music here.

Shun has partnered with Magic Dick, the great blues harmonica player who first came to prominence with the J. Geils Band, and they are fantastic together.

Mostly they play the blues, but they dabble in rock and soul, too.

Liam Mulligan, the hero of my Edgar Award-winning series of crime novels, loves the blues as much as I do, listening to the likes of Buddy Guy, Tommy Castro, Jimmy Thackery and others as he cruises around New England looking for trouble. And Roomful of Blues, a band fronted by my buddy Phil Pemberton, has made an appearance in two of the novels.

A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva is the fourth book in the series, which has received rave reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and a host of other publications. You can order any of them from independent or chain online bookstores by following this link.

 

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Why The Movie “Spotlight” Makes Me Feel Guilty

I finally watched the Oscar-winning movie Spotlight tonight, and I had three strong emotional reactions: admiration for The Boston Globe’s investigative team, pride in the profession I labored in for more than four decades, and . . . guilt.

Why guilt?

The Providence Journal building

The Providence Journal building

One day in the 1970’s, I fielded a phone call in the newsroom of The Providence Journal. The caller was a local woman who told me that her ten-year-old son had been repeatedly molested by a Roman Catholic priest in one of the city’s parishes.

Later that week, I sat down with her and her son across from their kitchen table and listened to their story. It was both chilling and hard to accept. Her son said he wasn’t the only one—that two of his friends also had been abused. I asked the woman if she or the other parents had reported this to the Providence Police. She said they’d tried but that the police just scoffed and warned them that it was a crime to file a false police report.

As a journalist, I was skeptical by nature; but by the time I left them that evening, I believed what they’d told me was true. The next day, I consulted with an editor, one of the top guys who ran the paper. He labeled the story rubbish before I could even finish relating it.

I told him I understood why he was incredulous but that I thought it was worth looking into. He forbade it. No way the paper was going to slander a priest, he said. Besides, he added, even if the story were true, no one in Rhode Island (the most heavily Roman Catholic state in the union at the time) would believe it.

I argued. He got mad. If I didn’t let this go, he warned, I’d be looking for another line of work.

Me in the Providence Journal newsroom in the 1970s

Me in the Providence Journal newsroom in the 1970s

I was just a young reporter, eight years or so into a profession he’d been engaged in for a couple of decades; but I was not very good at respecting my elders or following their orders. Still, there was something else to consider. I had a wife, kids, and a mortgage I could barely afford. I needed that job. I loved it, too. And when that editor threatened to take it away, he was so red-faced and angry that I knew he meant it.

This all transpired about 25 years before The Globe blew the lid off the pedophile scandal and the unconscionable cover-up by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Since the story broke, I’ve often thought about all the kids who were molested during the years when nobody, including me, was doing anything about it.

It seems unlikely that I was the only journalist who got a lead about a pedophile priest in the decades before Marty Baron walked into the top job at The Globe and began to set things right. There were so many damaged kids, so many angry parents. Surely some of them must have called their local papers and gotten the brush-off. That I probably wasn’t the only one who failed to follow up doesn’t make me feel even a teeny bit better.

Could The Providence Journal have tugged on the lead I got and unraveled the whole ugly mess in the 1970s? No way to know for sure, but I’m betting yes. We were good – the best small-city metro in the country in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Even then, I was a capable investigative reporter, good enough to get more than 100 people fired or indicted as a result of stories I wrote for The Journal during the first 13 years of my journalism career. Sometimes working alone, sometimes as part of a team, I exposed massive fraud in the state Medicaid system, corruption in the federal low-income housing program, wide-spread voter fraud in a mayoral election, third-world conditions and needless deaths at the state’s institution for the developmentally handicapped, physical and sexual abuse at the state’s institution for delinquent children . . . I even helped solve a murder. And I was far from the only one. In those days, the paper was rich with investigative talent.

Although we were a state paper, we didn’t always limit ourselves to Rhode Island stories. My expose of the first attempt to use the weather as a weapon of war — the U.S. military’s secret program of cloud seeding to wash out the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam — beat Seymour Hersh’s New York Times story by two weeks. And The Journal’s finest investigative reporter, the late Jack White, won a Pulitzer for reporting that President Richard Nixon had cheated on his federal income taxes.

So, yeah, maybe we could have done it. But we didn’t. I didn’t, to my everlasting regret.
I guess that’s why one line in the movie, delivered by Stanley Tucci in the role of a crusading Boston attorney named Mitchell Garabedian, hit me especially hard:

“It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to abuse one.”

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Who’s Reading “A Scourge of Vipers?” Blues Singer and Guitarist Ronnie Baker Brooks!

Ronnie Baker Brooks reading my crime novel, "A Scourge of Vipers."

Ronnie Baker Brooks reading my crime novel, “A Scourge of Vipers.”

Ronnie Baker Brooks is one of the best young blues musicians in the business. I first saw him in person on a blues cruise last fall, and that’s when I snapped this picture.  You can learn more about him and his music here.

Liam Mulligan, the hero of my Edgar Award-winning series of crime novels, loves the blues as much as I do, listening to the likes of Buddy Guy, Tommy Castro, Jimmy Thackery and others as he cruises around New England looking for trouble. And Roomful of Blues, a band fronted by my buddy Phil Pemberton, has made an appearance in two of the novels.

A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva is the fourth book in the series, which has received rave reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and a host of other publications. You can order any of them from independent or chain online bookstores by following this link.

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