First Sentence: A plow had buried the hydrant under five feet of snow, and it took the crew of Engine Company No. 6 nearly fifteen minutes to find it and dig it out.
Newspaperman Liam Mulligan is a true son on Providence, RI. His beat isn’t the elite. It’s the crooks, mobsters, and hookers, as well as the police and fire departments. Now, someone is starting fires in his old neighborhood. First, it’s just empty buildings. Until it’s not. Mulligan wants to know who, and what, is behind it. Trying to get the answers may cost him his life.
DeSilva’s opening is not only heartbreaking, but the implications are terrifying. Seven arson fires with a half-mile in three months is no accident.
It’s hard to tell about other places, but if one is from the East Coast--meaning from New Jersey to Boston’s North Shore--this book is very recognizable, and very effective. Providence is a small, tight community, especially amongst those who have been there for generations, and you feel that. “When a Rhode Islander needs something he can’t flat out steal, there are two ways to get it. …Chances are, in a state this small, you know somebody who can help. … No? Then you have the option of offering a small gratuity. Graft, Rhode Island’s leading service industry, is widely misunderstood by citizens of states you can’t stroll across on your lunch break. Those of us who live here know that it comes in two varieties, good and bad, just like cholesterol.”
DeSilva’s characters are very real. There are good guys, bad guys, and many who are varying shades of gray. Mulligan, Rosie, the first female fire chief, and Edward Anthony Mason IV, son of the newspaper’s owner and referred to as “Thanks-Dad” by Mulligan, are definitely the good guys. You enjoy them and worry about them. DeSilva’s prognostication of the newspaper industry is depressing, yet one we’ve come to see be true.
The language is what one would expect to find among people of this rank so if one is profanity-adverse, this is not the book for you. However, if you like sarcasm and well-done narration that occasionally makes you chuckle, one should enjoy this. A side note is that DeSilva incorporates his wife’s poem and his daughter’s name into the story. Yes, it does pay to read the author notes.
DeSilva’s descriptions are so effective—“I heard the fire before I felt it, the flames sounding like a thousand flags snapping in the wind. I felt it before I saw it, the head like a backhand slap from the devil.” History buffs will appreciate the historical information that runs through the story.
“Rogue Island” has humor and a bit of romance, but the underlying crimes are very serious and have heart-breaking consequences. In the end, it is a story of trust, betrayal and justice, realized in an unorthodox way.
ROGUE ISLAND (Lic Inv/Jour-Liam Mulligan- Providence, RI-Contemp) – G+
DeSilva, Bruce – 1st in series
Forge – 2010