Bruce DeSilva’s first mystery, Rogue Island, won last year’s Edgar Award for best first novel, and if there’s a prize for best second, Cliff Walk is a winner, too.
It crackles with snappy banter and a plot layered with a hefty dose of hard-boiled morality — good guys rarely win, justice may not always be achieved, but you do what you can and when you can’t, you drink. In a “newsroom cut to the marrow,” journalist Liam Mulligan is doing what he can, scraping around in the sleazy underbelly of Rhode Island, which, after reading DeSilva’s books, I’m thinking isn’t very under at all.
The Cliff Walk is a famous “rocky, guano-slick precipice” in Newport, and it symbolizes Mulligan’s slippery path in this investigation. In the 1990s, a clever lawyer discovered that Rhode Island’s “antiprostitution law … defined the offense as streetwalking,” making prostitution legal if it’s indoors. Mulligan is investigating the sex trade in searching for connections among prostitutes, mobsters, the governor’s re-election campaign, and the limbs of a murdered child found in pig slop.
It’s no wonder that Mulligan drinks Maalox for a “growing pain just below [his] breastbone.” It’s his heart aching.
— Carole E. Barrowman, Minneapolis Star-Tribune