Monday, November 1, 2010

ROGUE ISLAND by Bruce DeSilva



Rogue Island is a gangster story.

It is the story of the way corruption overtakes a state.  The title Rogue Island is a distorted way of saying Rhode Island.  The book reveals that the state has been nicknamed that almost from its beginning.  It was settled by crooks and pirates.  It has had a reputation for being crooked from the first.

Rogue Island has something to say for all of us today.

Apparently a pyromanic is burning down the old Providence neighborhood, killing investigative reporter Liam Mulligan's childhood friends.  Mulligan sets out to find the firebug.  He finds he isn't dealing with a  pyromania at all. He is dealing with cold-blooded organized crime, killers who murder his friends and almost murder him.

Written in a powerful way, this book spoke to me because right now so much of our politics seems corrupt, based on lies.  We've just gone through a contested election in our own conservative state.  Every TV ad (which I consistently turned away from) attacked opponents.  That was true for both parties.  Often, the ads contained exaggerations and lies.  Moderation was nowhere to be found.  Reports say that outside companies shielded by umbrella groups are dumping millions into our state election.

When politics becomes that kind of game, you know money is involved.  And that's the way it is with this book too.  Money is involved.

For me, the most memorable character in a book with several memorable characters was the publisher's son, starting at the bottom, apprenticed to the grisly investigative reporter. 

The reporter ridicules the boy by refusing to call him by his name, calling him "Thanks Dad" instead.  As it turns out, Thanks Dad has more to him than his mentor first perceives.

This is a well-written book, a good but, for me, not a great book. The style reminded me of Ed McBain's style. 

McBain is one of Bruce DeSilva's particular heroes.  You'll have to read the book to find out why.

This book has been hailed on many fronts as a five-star book, something  very special.  I didn't find it that way.  I found it to be a good book, the kind I would read more of, but you have set a high bar when you attempt to take up the mantle of my favorite author Ed McBain.

On the other hand, McBain had a lot of years of writing.  May the same be so for Bruce DeSilva.

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