There’s a lot to be said for an author owning an area. The way Robert Parker does Boston, Carl Hiaasen for Florida in general, Stephen King in Maine or how Robert Crais and Michael Connolly share Los Angeles.
Added to that list now, I think it’s safe to say, is Bruce DeSilva who returns the action to Rhode Island in Cliff Walk, a smooth and savvy follow-up to his Edgar Award-winning Rogue Island that further establishes DeSilva as a major crime writer. This as his intrepid reporter hero Liam Mulligan once again gets down and dirty. Literally this time.
“Cosmo Scalici hollered over the grunts and squeals of three thousand hogs rooting in his muddy outdoor pens.”
The fact that a child’s severed arm is found amid that squalor serves as the perfect compliment for the body of a murdered porn king being found at the base of the majestic Newport locale of the title. Ugly things, DeSilva (a former reporter himself for this very Providence Journal) is telling us, lurk in pretty places, too, and making the distinctions remains a challenge for the coffee-chugging Mulligan whose devotion to old school reporting on organized crime and corruption renders him part of an endangered species.
DeSilva pushes that same envelope further by putting Internet pornography front and center. Seems like everything in the world he expertly fashions, including sex, is dark and sordid and that’s even before we meet a luscious array of colorful characters like Attila the Nun, Blackjack Baldelli and Knuckles Grieco. Hmmmm, sound familiar, anyone?
With Cliff Walk, DeSilva neatly carves out his own noirish niche among the living legends with whom he is frequently compared. A twisty, tightrope of a tale that satisfies on every level and makes you wonder why some writer didn’t lay claim to Rhode Island before.
— Thriller writer Jon Land for The Providence Journal