Mysterious Book Report No. 64

It is an acknowledged truth and accepted fact that we are witnessing the death-struggles of the daily newspaper.  Newer, faster methods of news gathering and information distribution has eclipsed them.  As one who has been a newspaper affectionato since the age of four . . . when I could only read the ‘funny pages’ as the comics were called . . . I’m sad to see them go, and mourn their passing.  And while the daily papers are in trouble, the weeklies are just fine at present, as they’re vehicles for hometown news and advertising and operate on a skeletal budget, dependent on volunteerism to put out each edition.  The plain truth of the matter is that all of the downsizing and bankruptcies have put a helluva lot of writers and photographers out of work.  But, it’s not all bad news . . . because some of those writers are putting their skills to work in other ways and are doing some outstanding work.  This week’s Mysterious Book Report is a case in point; as well as a great chance to get in on the ground floor of an exceptional writer whose work is already recognized: his first novel won an Edgar.

Cliff Walk, (Forge, $24.99, 318 pages, ISBN 978-0-7653-3237-0) by Bruce DeSilva is by all accounts exemplary hard-boiled crime-fiction.  At the same time, it’s an excellent account of a seasoned reporter struggling to keep his job on a dying newspaper, something the author did for forty-one years.

Cliff Walk is set in Providence, Rhode Island and told in the first person by a serial character named Liam Mulligan, an old-fashioned investigative reporter.

Because prostitution had been legalized in Rhode Island, Mulligan is chasing the threads of a story about the governor taking payoffs to prevent the law allowing it from being overturned.  At the same time, pieces of children begin showing up in garbage used to feed pigs at a commercial farming operation and the body of one of the biggest pornography producers is found at the base of a cliff . . . someone Mulligan had seen whispering in the governor’s ear at a society party the night before.  He senses a much-larger story is at hand, and an odyssey begins that will take him deep into the sex business . . . and leave him questioning the moral values he was brought up with.  This one is a burner.  It left me craving more and sorry to see the last page turn up.  DeSilva, like Leonard, Connelly, and James Lee Burke, is on my Don’t Miss list.  I’m going to find a hardcover first edition of Rogue Island, Bruce DeSilva’s debut, and put it on the shelf with all the other crime-fiction giants.  He’s that good.

It’s good to go to the library too . . . but’cha gotta get up off your big, fat, La-Z-Boy and go!  You’d sure do it if they were giving out hundred dollar bills, wouldn’t ya.  The library is where you’ll find something even more valuable . . . knowledge.  It’s ________________ (fill in the blank.  Hint: starts with the letter ‘P’.

Have you visited my website yet?

Johndwainemckenna.com

It’s got all the Mysterious Book Reports, a free story, links, blogs, photos and posts and you can leave your own remarks.  We’d love to hear from you.  You can contact us through the website, or the traditional way at P.O. Box 2406, Colorado Springs, CO  80901.  Signed copies of The Neversink Chronicles are still available at Cannie D’s in Neversink, the Time and the Valleys Museum Store in Grahamsville and now Peter’s Market in Napancoh, as well as the Little Store in Roscoe.  You can get a copy at Rhyolite Press, P.O. Box 2406, Colorado Springs, Co 80901, or rhyolitepress.com.  Regular copies are available at Amazon.com, your favorite bookstore or e-readers, Kindle and iPad.  Don’t forget, today is the last day to get your pre-orders in for The Whim-Wham Man at rhyolitepress.com, I know your gonna love this one.  I’ll see you next week with another MBR.

                                                                                    –JDM