Thursday, April 9, 2015

"A Scourge of Vipers"

Bruce DeSilva is a former journalist whose Edgar Award-winning hard-boiled crime novels chronicle the adventures of Liam Mulligan, an investigative reporter for the dying Providence Dispatch.

DeSilva applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, A Scourge of Vipers, and reported the following:
As page 69 begins, Mulligan is drinking at a bucket-of-blood Providence bar with his old friend, Rhode Island Governor Fiona McNerney, a former religious sister nicknamed Attila the Nun because of her take-no-prisoners approach to politics. Mulligan is complaining about his boss, who has ordered him to try out for the local semi-pro basketball team as a publicity stunt for the newspaper.
“He wants you to do what?” Attila the Nun asked.

“You heard me right the first time.”

We were drinking at a table in Hopes while the governor’s limo, a state trooper at the wheel, lurked just outside the door.

“Can’t you talk him out of it?’

“I tried, but he’s got a whim of iron.”

“This is crazy, Mulligan. You could kill yourself trying to keep up with twenty-year-olds.”

“Who says I’m going to try to keep up?”

“Are you in shape?”

“Do I look in shape?”

She thunked her bottle of Bud on the cracked Formica table and looked me up and down, then glanced at the TV over the scarred mahogany bar, where the Celtics were getting run over by the Clippers.

“Not compared to those guys.”

“It’s not like I’ll be going up against Blake Griffin,” I said. “My wind is still pretty good, and I can still fill it up from the three-point line.”

“You’ll have to kick the cigars for a while.”

“Aw, fuck.”

“What about your knee?”

“Hasn’t bothered me much since the surgery.”

“Sounds like you’re warming to the idea.”

“I hate it,” I said. “It’s a stupid prank to gin up circulation, but at least it will get me out of the office for a while.”

I flagged down Annie, the leggy Rhode Island School of Design teaching assistant who moonlighted as a barmaid, and ordered another round.

“Is this why you wanted to get together tonight?” Fiona asked. “To see if I could talk you out of a heart attack?”

“No. There’s something else.” I slid my cell out of my pocket and called up the photo. “Ever seen this guy?”
The passage is untypical of the novel, a quiet moment about a sub-plot in a book that explores sports gambling and the corrupting influence of big money on politics. The novel is peopled with mobbed-up bag men, bookies, gamblers, street thugs, bent cops, and crooked politicians. And the story is rife with payoffs, assaults, theft, murders, a fatal plan crash, political intrigue, and plenty of suspense.
Learn more about the book and author at Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Rogue Island.

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My Book, The Movie: Providence Rag.

The Page 69 Test: Providence Rag.

--Marshal Zeringue