The Winnipeg Free Press and The Toronto star weighed in with glowing reviews of my crime novel, Rogue Island, this weekend. The former called the book “first-rate,” and latter says “DeSilva keeps everything on the boil in absorbing style.”
Please read on:
From The Winnipeg Free Press:
Finally, a first-rate whodunit that doesn’t make all journalists out to be scum-sucking bottom-feeders. Well, not all of us anyway.
No matter that Rogue Island is penned by Bruce DeSilva, a 40-year journo who did an early stint in Providence, R.I., where his dogged protagonist, “Don’t-call-me-Liam” Mulligan, plies his trade. Battered newsfolk will take what they can get — in this case, a feisty, noirish, in-your-face debut that has series stamped all over it.
Mulligan has fallen on hard times since his Pulitzer. He lives meanly, his Bronco barely runs, his pending ex-wife is a nutbar, his hot reporter-girlfriend won’t sleep with him until he gets an AIDS test and his monosyllabic city editor is hounding him to do Lassie stories.
Then a serial arsonist starts burning out his old neighborhood, conveniently touted for development, and Mulligan must claw through the city’s endemic corruption and his paper’s ass-covering indifference to get the story, aided and hampered by a memorable cast.
Battered, bruised, suspended and worse, Mulligan retains his snarky resilience, evoking both the heady era of bare-knuckle newspapering and its end-of-days decline. He’s a keeper.
John Sullivan reviewed for The Winnipeg Free Press. The link:
From The Toronto Star:
With Rogue Island De Silva does what first novelists are supposed to do — he writes about what he knows, which happens to be, intimately and minutely, the newspaper business.
Among the dailies where DeSilva worked as reporter or editor, a list including The New York Times, is The Providence Journal in Rhode Island, and it’s in and around a version of this paper where DeSilva sets his story. Along the way, he gives us much colourful information about tiny Rhode Island’s history (populated by pirates), politics (as corrupt as they get), policing (inept) and major crime bosses (thriving).
All in all, it’s an opportune time for a guy to work the crime beat at the local paper, and that’s our man Liam Mulligan, the book’s central character. Mulligan grew up working class in Providence and has known from childhood where all the bodies are buried in town, both physically and metaphorically. The knowledge has made him a cynic, but one with a passion for justice.
If Mulligan sounds, in crime fiction terms, like an old time gumshoe, bearing a close resemblance to a Raymond Chandler creation, that would be an accurate impression. Mulligan is a Philip Marlowe for the 21st century, with a notebook instead of a gun, but the same kind of chivalrous romantic. In his attitude to drink, dames, smart cracks and insolence for his alleged superiors, Mulligan is in tune with Marlowe, Sam Spade, Spenser and the rest of the grand old gang.
The crime story Mulligan is working on in Rogue Island involves serial arsons in an aging central neighborhood that’s ripe for developers to plunder. In chasing down the pyromaniac and his story, Mulligan gets himself in all kinds of tight spots with all manner of bad guys.
DeSilva keeps everything on the boil in absorbing style. As a bonus, he’s especially good at painting a picture of life at a 2010 city daily. It’s not pretty, but Mulligan, and presumably DeSilva, manages to wear an optimistic smile through the tears.
Clarification: I was never on staff at The New York Times, although I have written for the book review section.
Jack Batten, a Toronto author and freelance writer, reviewed for The Toronto Star. The link: