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Rogue Island (Liam Mulligan) Hardcover – October 12, 2010

133 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

DeSilva's lengthy career as a reporter for the Providence (R.I.) Journal has provided him with the writing skill and the in-depth knowledge of city room and cityscape so well displayed in this strong debut crime novel. It's also allowed him to create a totally believable protagonist in Liam Mulligan, a beleaguered journalist seeing his old neighborhood being destroyed by arson and his newspaper by reader disaffection. Mulligan's first-person narration is filled with emotion, not the least of which is his love-hate relationship with his city and state. And there are suspenseful moments of high tension. Too bad reader Boehmer has opted for a bland, even-tempered, almost bedtime-story approach, emphasizing key words without putting much feeling behind them. The only times he lets himself go is in delineating phone calls from Mulligan's shrewish ex-wife. Perversely, she's the novel's one character in need of underplaying. A Forge hardcover. (Nov.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Born and raised in the Mount Hope section of Providence, Rhode Island, journalist Liam Mulligan won’t simply report on the rash of arsons killing lifelong friends and loved ones in his old neighborhood. He wants to know more and launches an investigation, discovering a heavy-handed plot to own Mount Hope in order to redevelop it. Along the way, he’s threatened, beaten, arrested on suspicion of arson and murder, suspended from his newspaper, and targeted with a Mob contract on his life. Mulligan must turn to some unlikely allies to save his tired old neighborhood and secure justice. Rogue Island has everything a crime fan could want: a stubborn, street-smart hero with a snarky sense of humor; more than a baker’s dozen of engaging characters; a fast-paced plot; a noirish style; a realistic postmillennium newspaper setting; mean, pot-holed streets; and, best of all, a knowing portrait of a small city and a tiny state famous for inept government, jiggery-pokery, and corruption. Debut novelist DeSilva began a four-decade career in journalism as a reporter for the Providence Journal, and his take on the city and state is harsh but also affectionate, as when he describes graft as Rhode Island’s “leading service industry,” noting that “it comes in two varieties, good and bad, just like cholesterol.” This tremendously entertaining crime novel is definitely one of the best of the year. --Thomas Gaughan

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Product Details

  • Series: Liam Mulligan (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; First Edition edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765327260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765327260
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,062,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Bruce DeSilva's crime fiction has won the Edgar and Macavity Awards; has been listed as a finalist for the Shamus, Anthony, and Barry Awards; and has been published in ten foreign languages. His short stories have appeared in Akashic Press's award-winning noir anthologies. He has reviewed books for The New York Times Sunday Book Review and Publishers Weekly, and his reviews for The Associated Press have appeared in hundreds of other publications. Previously, he was a journalist for forty years, most recently as writing coach world-wide for The Associated Press, editing stories that won nearly every major journalism prize including the Pulitzer. He has worked as a consultant for fifty newspapers, taught at the University of Michigan and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and lectured at Harvard University's Nieman Foundation. He and his wife, the poet Patricia Smith, live in New Jersey with two enormous dogs named Brady and Rondo. Find him online at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Westreacher on October 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've lived in Rhode Island all my life, albeit downstate. I'm an avid reader of everything from mysteries to nonfiction, very picky, and a former, now part-time journalist. I was entranced by this book from page one. DeSilva has done a wonderful job combining inside knowledge with a true love for our screwed up, but wonderful state. His hero is a well-written character, reminiscent of Spenser, but with a more human, believable personality. The plot line was great, his characters entertaining. Even if you're not from the Biggest Little State in the Union, you'll enjoy this fast-paced, well-written book. Looking forward to more from this author.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Mike Waller on October 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rogue Island is a terrific book, written by an outstanding reporter who was a great writing coach for The Hartford Courant and then the Associated Press. The testimonials on the book jacket are actually right on target--the writing is superb and true to the newsroom and street scenes. DeSilva's characters jump off the page, alive with all their human flaws. The pages are like potato chips--you can't read just one. DeSilva is especially skilled at creating a sense of place--Providence is so real you can touch and smell it. And his hero, investigative reporter Liam Mulligan, has just the right touch of cynicism and idealism. I'm looking foward to Mulligan's next adventure and to his inaugural appearance in what surely will be a series of movies. To bad William Powell or Bogart aren't around to play him. Perhaps Matt Damon will do.
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61 of 69 people found the following review helpful By MM on October 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in three sittings over a weekend; it was hard to put down. The plot is fast-paced, and the writing is sparse yet rich, and studded with laugh-out-loud lines. When a book is this easy to read, you know the writer worked hard. Bruce combines this discipline with an ability to entertain. He has the requisite anatomy _ an ear for dialog, an eye for detail, a head for street smarts and the heart of a softie. Plus insights into human nature that come from having seen more than a few slices of life.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Rick Mitchell VINE VOICE on January 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This terrific debut novel is so reminiscent of Robert parker's early (and best) Spenser novels, I had to check the cover to make sure he had not written it.

Set in Providence, Rhode Island, DeSilva's narrator, Mulligan, is a an old-fashioned reporter in the dying newspaper industry. Providence is his home town and he knows everyone, including the crooks - which comprise most of the city's population. There is a horrendous string of arsons in the Mount Hope section of the city and Mulligan investigates them. Along the way he falls in love with a fellow reporter and unwillingly takes on the blueblood publisher's son as a partner. He refers to the 'kid' as "Thanks-Dad".

As Spenser would quote poetry, Mulligan quotes classic movie. As Spenser knew Boston, Mulligan knows Providence and brings it alive to the reader.

Mulligan is a fully fleshed out character with depth and emotions. The supporting cast is terrific and varied. Just when you think there is a stereotype, the character steps out of form. The underworld of Providence is brought to light in a humorous manner without the descriptions being trite. All the characters are believable.

Mulligan's frustration in solving the arsons is palpable. Eventually he does solve them - he is after all, the hero. Solving only leads to more frustration. If there is one weakness in the book, the ending is a bit too pat, but that criticism pales when compared to the quality of the rest of the book.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book that I enjoyed from start to finish. I am hopeful that Mr. DeSilva will follow with more Mulligan mysteries. This was a great debut, but that is not to diminish it. It is a great read whether an author's first or fifteenth mystery. Highly recommended.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you like fast-paced crime thrillers with a rich sense of of atmosphere and a strong male protagonist, this is the book for you -- just don't expect too much from the plot. Set in a richly detailed grimy Providence, RI, the story follows newspaper reporter Mulligan ("just Mulligan") as he pokes his nose into an outbreak of arson in the city's run-down Mount Hope neighborhood. Meanwhile, the separated-and-nearly-divorced Mulligan is also embarking on a new relationship with the paper's beautiful courthouse reporter while fending off the attentions of the paper's hot photo-lab lady.

The book largely succeeds as an example of using the crime genre as a vehicle for presenting social history -- the reader learns about Providence's sordid past and present as Mulligan rolls around its streets and various local haunts form the backdrops for scenes. It's very reminiscent of aspects of George Pelecanos's crime novels set in and around Washington, D.C., which deliver a much more richly authentic history of the city and its inhabitants than any guide or history book. The whole reason I picked up the book is that I have two good friends who've settled in the Providence, and I was looking to get a little more sense of the city. In that respect, the book is quite good (although the constant Red Sox boosterism gets exceedingly tiresome).

Unfortunately, as a mystery/crime story the book is much less successful. The motive for the arson is easily guessed at, and when a hint regarding who might stand to benefit is given, it sticks out like a sore thumb. However, since the story requires some action, it delays the intrepid reporter hero from vigorously pursuing the obvious paper trail that will lead him to the motive and perpetrators.
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