Liam Mulligan, investigative reporter for The Providence Dispatch newspaper has come a long way since June 1992. Back then he was a young reporter working the sports beat who, by the luck of the draw and the fact that no one else was available, was forced into helping cover from the start one of the worst murder cases in the history of Rhode Island. A case that ultimately resulted in the very justified conviction of a killer who is definitively going to kill again if he ever gets out.


In the spring of 2012 that release is looking more and more likely. Not only is the killer going to get out, Mulligan probably will see that happen very soon as well as the death of his employer, The Providence Dispatch. Newspapers are a dying industry thanks to a population that either reads online or doesn’t read at all. Mulligan knows the end is near every time he walks into the nearly empty newsroom and considers all the empty workstations, but looking for a new job isn’t a high priority right now. Mulligan instead is focused on the case and the huge ethical dilemma it has created.  It seems increasingly clear that prison officials were fabricating charges to keep the killer behind bars beyond his original sentence because the laws passed by the legislature were never ever designed to handle this unique situation. If prison officials really could make up charges and did so the obvious implication is that they could do it again with somebody else. Where does the public’s all-encompassing right to know about corruption and other matters fit into this situation? Beyond the thorny issue of what they did, if it did happen and Mulligan and possibly other reporters write about it, all heck is going to break loose with the most likely result in a killer being released to kill again. A killer who, no doubt, is far smarter about how to do what he wants to do without getting caught than when he went in all those years ago.


Inspired by two famous Rhode Island murder cases, Providence Rag: A Liam Mulligan Novel is the third book in the very good Liam Mulligan series. While Mulligan is getting older and maybe wiser—through that is questionable— he is certainly more and more aware of the fact that he is the last of his breed in a dying industry. The obvious question as to who is going to expose corrupt politicians and flawed government actions when newspapers are gone is one that comes up again here as well as the ethics in reporting all that one knows about a situation.


This latest in the series is another good one from author Bruce DeSilva. Shifting in time from various dates in 1989 to 2012 the complicated read features further development of many characters as well as an illustrative history of what is being lost as the newspaper industry dies before our eyes. The world has changed a lot in those years and readers are reminded of those changes as the book works its way through and increasingly suspenseful situation on various fronts. Based on real life events with names and other details fictionalized Providence Rag: A Liam Mulligan novel, like the preceding two books Rogue Island and Cliff Walk, is absolutely well worth your time.



Providence Rag: A Liam Mulligan Novel

Bruce DeSilva

Forge (A Tom Doherty Associates Book)

March 2014

ISBN #978-0-7653-7429-5

Hardback (also available in e-book)

304 Pages




ARC was provided by the author for my use in an objective review.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2014


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