Rogue Island is a sarcastic alias used by Rhode Island locals; an affectionate reference to the state’s rampant corruption and mob influence. In Bruce DeSilva’s excellent crime novel, jaded Providence newspaper reporter Liam Mulligan is losing at love, is harassed by his soon-to-be ex-wife, and chafes at his boss’s mundane assignment to do feel-good stories about dogs.
But somebody is burning down buildings in the Mount Hope section of Providence where Mulligan grew up. People are killed - civilians and firefighters. Mullgan knows some of them. Despite his boss’s objections, he sets off on his own investigation, not trusting the city’s arson investigators, whom he publicly belittles as Dumb and Dumber.
As the number of fires mount, Mulligan begins to doubt they’re dealing with a classic pyromaniac, despite a much-touted FBI profile of the arsonist. The fires are confined to a specific rectangle of the neighborhood. And a few obscure real estate companies have been buying up properties in the same area. Homeowners who have been approached to sell are among the arsonist’s victims.
Rogue Island lays on a heavy dose of hard-bitten language and wisecracking dialog. Mulligan find himself on everyone’s bad side as he steps on plenty of toes to push his investigation forward. The cast of characters, the clues, and the action keep coming at a brisk pace, urging the reader to keep turning the page. At about 300 pages, it is a thoroughly enjoyable quick read.