A Scourge of Vipers
by Bruce DeSilva
This was a very entertaining, fast-paced and exciting book; but it brings up some thought-provoking ideas. There is an underlying theme of the way that money can corrupt the American legislative process. When different Super-PACs (Political Action Committees) have strong preferences for modifying a bill, they can spend enormous amounts of money to buy influence. Since much of that money may be unregulated, it can be used to buy votes though contributions to the politicians involved or even outright bribes. That money may also be used to buy advertisements in newspapers and then threaten to pull those ads if the paper doesn’t toe the line. The donors can be hidden through multiple PACs contributing to the Super-PAC. That way nobody knows who is behind the influence peddling.
Liam Mulligan is an investigative reporter for The Providence Dispatch. The newspaper is now owned by a large conglomerate whose only goal is to maximize profit. They want to produce a paper where the only purpose of the articles that Mulligan writes is to fill up the empty spaces between the ads. Mulligan is an old school, Pulitzer winning reporter, so he doesn’t go along with the program. He feels that he has to see who is trying to buy this piece of legislation, even though The Dispatch is depending on the ad revenue. The owners care more about keeping the ads than keeping Mulligan.
Mr. DeSilva knows his way around the newspaper business, and also how to write about it in an exciting and suspenseful way. He develops his characters and doesn’t just rely on flat, two-dimensional stereotypes. Even though this is the fourth book in the Liam Mulligan series, he spends enough time on character development that you feel that you know the major players in the book, but I don’t think that someone who had read the previous books would feel like he was going overboard. He walks a fine line, which makes A Scourge of Vipers a great starting point in the series. I imagine that many readers would like to fall back and read the earlier books in the series after reading this book.
A Scourge of Vipers was a very entertaining and thought-provoking book. I read it very quickly. I didn’t want to put it down. I give it 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! I recommend it to anyone who like their thrillers to challenge the status quo.
I received a review copy from the publisher.
To solve Rhode Island’s budget crisis, the state’s colorful governor, Attila the Nun, wants to legalize sports gambling; but her plan has unexpected consequences. Organized crime, professional sports leagues, and others who have a lot to lose–or gain–if gambling is made legal flood the state with money to buy the votes of state legislators.
Liam Mulligan, investigative reporter for The Providence Dispatch, wants to investigate, but his bottom-feeding corporate bosses at the dying newspaper have no interest in serious reporting. So Mulligan goes rogue, digging into the story on his own time. When a powerful state legislator turns up dead, an out-of-state bag man gets shot, and his cash-stuffed briefcase goes missing, Mulligan finds himself the target of shadowy forces who seek to derail his investigation by destroying his career, his reputation, and perhaps even his life.
Bruce DeSilva’s A Scourge of Vipers is at once a suspenseful crime story and a serious exploration of the hypocrisy surrounding sports gambling and the corrupting influence of big money on politics.
Series: Liam Mulligan (Book 4)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Forge Books (April 7, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
About the Author
Bruce DeSilva’s 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 has worked as a consultant for fifty newspapers, taught at the University of Michigan and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and lectured at Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation. He and his wife, the poet Patricia Smith, live in New Jersey with two enormous dogs named Brady and Rondo. He is the author of Rogue Island, Cliff Walk and Providence Rag.