Bruce DeSilva’s new Rhody-centric mystery novel
`Cliff Walk’ is the title of Bruce DeSilva’s second rollicking murder mystery novel set in Rhode Island. It is the sequel to `Rogue Island’ and is built around a jaded newspaper reporter named Liam Mulligan, whose seen-it-all persona is leavened by a strong moral compass.
Mulligan is an investigative reporter at a dying newspaper that resembles the Providence Journal, where the author was once a reporter. The newspaper racket is depicted in all its raffish glory, as if Ben Hecht’s Front Page crashed into the Internet age.
This book will have a special resonance for Rhode Islanders. This work has a grand sense of place: Yes, the Cliff Walk in the title refers to the historic oceanside path off Bellevue Avenue that overlooks the Atlantic in Newport.
DeSilva has our state down, from its claustrophobic culture to its florid politics and the crime and corruption that have been part of the Ocean State since Roger Williams paddled his canoe across the Seekonk River and founded Divine Providence in 1636.
In a state where everybody knows your name, nobody can keep a secret for very long. This penchant for local gossip helps move the story along and grants DeSilva the stage his characters romp across. A strong suit of this work is the revealing detail that DeSilva has plucked from our cozy slice of southeastern New England.
Here you will find such gems as the scenes from inside Providence’s gritty strip clubs; the precise filet mignon sauce from the menu at the Capital Grille; the swells at the Gilded Age mansions of Newport and the seamy underbelly of the state’s mobsters and cops.
DeSilva’s first Rhode Island-centered novel, `Rouge Island,’ was a laugh-out-loud caricature of our state. `Cliff Walk’ is darker, with a focus on the sex-for-hire and pornographic movie industries.
There is an attorney general with a passing resemblance to Arlene Violet, the onetime Rhode Island a.g. And scenes from a tavern called `Hopes’ that is a spot-on portrayal of the onetime Washington Street watering hole frequented by reporters and an assortment of reprobates that gave the place the aura of a waiting room at a methadone clinic.
In Cliff Walk, DeSilva finds the humanity in the futile, charm in the quotidian, and hope amid life’s brokenness. Think Robert B. Parker moved south from Boston to Providence, with quahogs and Killian’s standing in for lobster and fine wine. Cliff Walk will keep you turning the page and reminding you why Rhode Island has long been described as a theme park for reporters and detectives.