Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"Providence Rag"

Bruce DeSilva grew up in a tiny Massachusetts mill town where the mill closed when he was ten. He had an austere childhood bereft of iPods, X-Boxes, and all the other cool stuff that hadn’t been invented yet. In this parochial little town, metaphors and alliteration were also in short supply. Nevertheless, his 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 and his wife, the poet Patricia Smith, live in New Jersey with two enormous dogs named Brady and Rondo.

DeSilva applied the Page 69 Test to Providence Rag, the third novel in his crime series featuring Liam Mulligan, an investigative reporter at a dying Providence, R.I. newspaper, and reported the following:
Page 69 finds Mulligan sitting in police chief Andy Jennings’s office. The two of them are talking with an FBI profiler over a speaker phone. Mulligan is trying to persuade the two lawmen that the killer who has been terrorizing a Providence, R.I., suburb for two years just might be a fifteen-year-old boy. The lawmen can’t believe the person they are hunting could be that young.
“Something else about the kid is nagging at me,” Mulligan said. “The footprints in the Medeiros house were a size twelve, but the ones at the Stuart house were size thirteen. Unless we’re looking at two different guys, which you say we’re not, our killer is still growing.”

“I wouldn’t put any stock in that,” Schutter said. “Prints made by stocking feet can be deceptive.”

“In what way?”

“They vary in size depending on whether the socks are loose or pulled on tight. No way this kid’s your killer. Don’t waste your time on him.”

After they hung up, Mulligan pulled out a cigar and set fire to it.

“Not supposed to smoke in here,” Jennings said. Then he shrugged, slipped a pack of Marlboros from his shirt pocket, and got one going.

“I still think it’s worth looking into, Andy.”

“Tell you what. After we finish recanvassing for the third friggin’ time, I’ll talk to the kid, see what he has to say. And Mulligan?”


“Stay the hell away from him and leave the investigation to the professionals.”

“Whatever you say.”


As he drove to work the next morning, Mulligan couldn’t get Kwame Diggs out of his head, so he decided to talk things over with the city editor.

“Schutter is full of shit,” Lomax said.

“How so?”

“Ever heard of Tommy Knox?”

“Knox? Who’s he?”

“Back in the 1960s, he was the starting fullback for the Tolman High School football team in Pawtucket. He was also a psychopath. He raped and murdered two women and badly injured a third; and he was a prime suspect in two other killings.”

“How old was he?”

“He killed his first victim when he was 15 years old.”
Learn more about the book and author at Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva & Rondo and Brady.

Writers Read: Bruce DeSilva.

My Book, The Movie: Providence Rag.

--Marshal Zeringue