Monday, October 25, 2010

"Rogue Island"

Rogue Island, the new crime novel by former Associated Press writing coach Bruce DeSilva, is getting rave reviews. Publishers Weekly, for example, called it "a masterpiece of irreverence and street savvy," and Booklist declared it "definitely one of the year's best." It has also been praised by 14 A-list crime novelists including Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben. DeSilva just completed the second book in the series, tentatively titled Cliff Walk.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Rogue Island and reported the following:
Rogue Island, the title of my new literary crime novel, is a play on "Rhode Island," a claustrophobic little state with a big reputation for corruption. Liam Mulligan, my main character, is an investigative reporter for a dying Providence, R.I., newspaper, and he is as old school as a newspaperman gets. He knows every street and alley. He knows the priests and prostitutes, the cops and street thugs. He knows the mobsters and politicians--who are pretty much one and the same. Someone is systematically burning down the working-class neighborhood Mulligan grew up in, and people he knows and loves are perishing in the flames. With the police looking for the arsonist in all the wrong places, and with the public on the verge of panic, it's up to Mulligan to find the hand that strikes the match.

As page 69 begins, Mulligan's battered old Ford Bronco, which he has ironically named Secretariat, is in the shop again, foiling his plan to spend the night cruising around the arson plagued neighborhood. So he calls the newspaper's young court reporter, Veronica Tang -- who he has a romantic interest in -- to see if she'll drive him around. The only other things you need to know are that Mulligan has a nagging ulcer, that he is on the run from Dorcas, his banshee of an ex-wife, and that Veronica will later figure significantly in the plot.

From page 68:
"Secretariat in the shop again?"


"Pick you up at seven."

And she did, driving her slate-gray Mitsubishi Eclipse straight to Camille's on Bradford Street, where we shared a bottle of wine and ate mounds of spaghetti. Veronica treated, tapping into the five-hundred-dollar monthly allowance from her Daddy that supplemented her meager paycheck. Good thing, or I'd have had to do some business with the loan shark eating with his aged mother at a table by the windows. Then it was off to the Cineplex in East Providence for the new Jackie Chan movie, he and his comic-relief sidekick doing a better job of catching the bad guys than I was.

This wasn't the romantic evening of street prowling and rat watching I had in mind, but I was having a pretty good time, especially whenever she leaned over to kiss me. Besides, she had the car keys, so there wasn't much I could do about it.

Afterward, she came up. We sat together on my bed and watched Craig Ferguson on my sixteen-inch Emerson. She sipped Russian River, her favorite kind of chardonnay, straight from the bottle, and I did the same with Maalox. The police radio, turned down low, chirped benignly in the background. Veronica thought Ferguson was the funniest man on television I didn't watch enough TV to know if she had a point.

"Mulligan?" Veronica said, sleep lurking at the edges of her voice. "Are you seeing anybody else?"

I flashed on Dorcas asking, "How many bitches are you fucking now?" Same Mulligan, different woman, better vocabulary.
Read an excerpt from Rogue Island, and learn more about the book and author at Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue