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The Dread Line, by Bruce DeSilva
"The best yet in one of my favorite series ever -- fast and funny, yet it packs a serious punch. This is hardboiled crime fiction at its best."
-- Steve Hamilton, two-time Edgar Award-winning author of "The Second Life of Nick Mason."

Since he got fired from his newspaper job last year, former investigative reporter Liam Mulligan has been piecing together a new life for himself—one that straddles both sides of the law. He’s getting some part-time work with his friend McCracken’s detective agency. He’s picking up beer money by freelancing for a local news website. And he’s looking after his semi-retired mobster-friend’s bookmaking business. But Mulligan still manages to find trouble—when it isn’t finding him. He’s feuding with a serial-killer cat that leaves its kills on his porch. He’s so obsessed with a baffling jewelry robbery that he can’t let it go. And he’s enraged that someone in town is torturing animals. All of this distracts him from a big case that needs his full attention. The New England Patriots, shaken by murder charges against one of their players, have hired Mulligan and McCracken to investigate the background of a college star they’re thinking of drafting. At first, the job seems routine, but when they begin asking questions, they get push-back. The player has something to hide—and someone is willing to kill to make sure it remains secret. .


 







“From the great first line, through the smart twisty plot, to the final word, DeSilva's “The Dread Line” is pure magic. Mulligan is a Hall of Fame PI who'd fit comfortably between Marlowe, Spade, and Easy Rawlins.”

-- Reed Farrel Coleman, NY Times Bestselling author of “Debt to Pay.

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“With his series, Bruce DeSilva is creating a path through our confusing times, told with a classic style of the master mystery authors whose ranks he’s now joined. “The Dread Line” gives readers a roguish hero who faces the worst of our culture and the worst he can be -- and tries to face that all while delivering justice and finding some personal peace. “The Dread Line” does what too many modern novels avoid: it delivers entertainment while taking a stand.”

– James Grady, author of “Last Days of the Condor.”

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"The best yet in one of my favorite series ever -- fast and funny, yet it packs a serious punch. This is hardboiled crime fiction at its best."

-- Steve Hamilton, two-time Edgar Award-winning author of The Second Life of Nick Mason.

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"For a great read, get Bruce DeSilva’s latest mystery novel, The Dread Line. Believe me, you will not be disappointed. Once again, DeSilva captures well our cozy, parochial and tribal state in all its florid sleaze. The author has an uncanny sense of place. Indeed, the Ocean State is as much a character as the group of aging mobsters, waspy swells dwelling in oceanside mansions, cops, sketchy lawyers, bookies and reporters roiled out by DeSilva. I’ve written this before, but now more than ever, it is apparent that DeSilva is to Rhode Island what James Lee Burke is to Louisiana. Without giving anything away, we can safely say that Mulligan flies very close to the sun in this edition. To nearly the last chapter, the reader is left wondering whether Mulligan has drifted too far to the dark side of the law. All of this adds up to a rollicking read."

-- Scott MacKay, Rhode Island Public Radio

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"Getting fired from the Providence Dispatch has done nothing to lighten Liam Mulligan’s workload; the first chronicle of his work as a part-time private eye piles no fewer than three cases on his back. The first job is the most straightforward: find the masked robber who stuck a gun in Ellington Cargill’s fabulously wealthy face while he was using his safe-deposit box at the Jamestown office of Pell Savings and Trust and walked away with jewelry valued at $6.3 million. The second has the client with the deepest pockets: the New England Patriots, who want McCracken & Associates, whose sole associate is Mulligan, to vet Conner Bowditch, the Boston College defensive tackle they plan to draft if he checks out. Since Mulligan already knows Bowditch’s not going to check out—he’s in debt to Mulligan’s old friend Dominic “Whoosh” Zerilli, the bookie who’s generously cut Mulligan in for a piece of his action—this job is a little complicated. But it’s not nearly as complicated as the third job: catching the creep who’s kidnapping dogs on the island of Conanicut, dousing them with lighter fluid, and setting them on fire. Mulligan, who’s just acquired two dogs of his own in the hope of protecting his homestead from the depredations of the fiend he dubs Cat the Ripper, is more than happy to join the hunt for this lowlife even without a client or a fee. But although the Bowditch affair drags on the longest and requires the most fireworks to resolve, it’s the search for the dog killer that ends up touching Mulligan most deeply."

-- Kirkus Reviews

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“With an opening carved from classic noir, Bruce DeSilva’s superb and deliciously dark Dread Line is off and running. A ribald mix of Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard, with a bit of Donald Westlake thrown in for good measure, it's a masterpiece of style with enough substance to make it a classic of postmodern crime noir.” – The Providence Journal

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"DeSilva has delivered another winner with The Dread Line. The action never lets up. Mulligan has a snappy answer to any situation, and when it comes to always having someone's back, he's the guy to call." -- The Associated Press

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"Mulligan isn't just an imitation of those who came before but a unique character all his own. . . . This novel is a joy to read." -- Sons of Sam Spade

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"The Dread Line, which works as a stand-alone, is an intense journey with multiple threads that are worked out expertly." -- My Book Views

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"This book is a real gem. From the very beginning the reader is caught up in the mess of a high priced football team that sounds a great deal like it's been ripped from the headlines. DeSilva has done it again." -- Suspense Magazine

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"If you like your heroes hardboiled (but with a heart of gold), you're in luck. . . . If you don't know this series, how come? Grab it up! and then the earlier ones, too." -- Award-winning mystery writer SJ. Rozan.

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"I've been a big fan of Bruce DeSilva's excellent Liam Mulligan books from the start. How could I not enjoy stories about a wisecracking newspaper reporter taking down the bad guys. Highly recommended." -- New York Times best-selling author Ace Atkins.

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"DeSilva has a terrific new mystery called The Dread Line. . . . I can't resist letting you know about Bruce and this great series. Check it out." -- David Morrell, the creator of Rambo.


The Dread Line, by Bruce DeSilva

CHAPTER 1

He was a serial killer, but I didn’t hold that against him. It was his nature. The way he killed irked me some. His victims were all missing their heads. But what I couldn’t abide was his habit of using my porch as a dump site.

The first corpse appeared on a cool damp September morning. I’d just carried my second cup of coffee out the back door and settled into my Adirondack chair with the daily newspaper. As I read, I was vaguely aware of the cries of the gulls and the slap of the waves against my dock. Then something red fluttered in my peripheral vision.

Even without a head, the victim was easy to identify. A northern cardinal. Either that or a scarlet tanager, but I hadn’t spotted one of those in Rhode Island in years. This killer, I thought, preferred to slaughter things that were beautiful. But his next two victims were moles. Then a wren, a starling, and a field mouse.

Like most predators, he clung to the shadows, but today I finally caught a glimpse of him as he fled down my porch steps. A big tabby with a torn left ear and a matted coat. People on the island take care of their pets, so this one had to be a stray; or maybe it was feral. He’d left me his latest victim, a full-grown rabbit.

Cat the Ripper was escalating.

I didn’t figure I’d be able catch him, and reforming him was out of the question, but perhaps I could nudge him into choosing another disposal site. It was time to get a dog.

[#]

I was on my laptop, checking out what was available from the Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island, when Johnny Rivers started belting out “Secret Agent Man,” my ringtone for Bruce McCracken, the boss man at McCracken & Associates Confidential Investigative Services. “Associates” was an exaggeration because I was the only one—and I worked there part time.

“You busy?” he asked.

“I am.”

“With what?”

“Shopping for a dog.”

“Yeah? I got an ex-con pal who needs a new home for his two-year-old Rottweiler.”

“Why?”

“Says he’s getting too aggressive.”

“No thanks,” I said.

“Don’t tell me you want a damned punt dog.”

“What’s a punt dog?”

“A little shit you can dropkick fifty yards.”

“Oh, hell no. I’m looking for a pooch big enough to knock me down when I come home. But I’d prefer one without a record.”

“I don’t think Bandit’s bitten anybody yet.”

“Maybe so, but with a name like that, he’s destined for a life of crime.”

“Speaking of crime,” McCracken said, “we’ve been retained to look into a major one.”

“Oh?”

“Seems somebody knocked over the Pell Savings and Trust branch on the island.”

“When was this?”

“Three weeks ago.”

“What? How come I haven’t heard about it?”

“Because armed robbery is bad for business,” he said. “The bank’s trying to keep it under wraps.”

“They did call the police, right?”

“Oh, sure.”

“And?”

“And they’re not happy with the lack of progress from the quote hick Jamestown P.D. unquote.”

“Bank robbery is a federal crime,” I said. “Isn’t the FBI involved?”

“An agent from the Providence office took a report, but you know how it’s been ever since 9/11. If it’s not a terrorism case, the feds aren’t much interested.”

“How much did the bank lose?”

“I don’t have any details,” he said. “Mildred Carson, the branch manager, wants a face-to-face.”

“Did you say Mildred?’”

“I did.”

“There are still people named Mildred?”

“At least one, anyway. So can you handle this or not?”

“Gonna reimburse me for mileage?”

“Mulligan, you live in Jamestown.”

“So?”

“So the whole damn island is only one mile wide.”

“Yeah,” I said, “but it’s nine miles long.”

Jamestown, population 5,405 in winter and about twice that in summer, is the lone municipality on the island of Conanicut, which basks like a harbor seal at the entrance to Narragansett Bay. I was keeping house this year in a five-room cottage situated on two acres of meadow along the island’s north shore, just a ten minute drive from Newport’s mansions and forty-five-minutes south of McCracken’s office in downtown Providence. I’d bought the place last spring, about nine months after I was let go by the dying Providence Dispatch. The house needed work, but it was a step up from my old apartment in a squalid Providence triple-decker.

My new job with McCracken seldom paid enough to meet the mortgage, and the loose change I picked up freelancing for The Ocean State Rag, a local news website, barely covered my cigar and Irish whiskey habits. But for the first time in my forty-five years of life, I had money in my pocket. Before he retired to Florida last year, my old friend Domenic “Whoosh” Zerilli had made me a silent partner in his bookmaking racket.

After two decades as an investigative reporter for Rhode Island’s biggest newspaper, it felt odd to be living above the poverty line. It felt even odder to be a lawbreaker. But the way I saw it, I wasn’t breaking any important ones.



Also from Bruce DeSilva

Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva “I can't believe this is a debut -- DeSilva writes with a master's understanding of the genre. The dialogue is spot on, the humor is wry, and the world is gritty enough that I still have dirt under my fingernails. Rogue Island is a winner.”

-- Marcus Sakey, bestselling author of The Amateurs.
  Cliff Walk by Bruce DeSilva “Bruce DeSilva accomplishes something remarkable: He takes everything we love about the classic hardboiled detective novel and turns it into a story that's fresh, contemporary, yet timeless.”

-- Joseph Finder, New York Times best-selling author of Vanished and Buried Secrets.
Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva “Bruce DeSilva writes a story in the tradition of Hammett and Higgins, and he writes it with the knowledge of an old-time police reporter. DeSilva knows cops, corruption in eastern cities, wiseguys, rounders, bounders, gamblers, and midnight ramblers. He writes with authority about the issues of our times, and he does it with honesty and candor. If you want a hardboiled view of how a city actually works, this is your book.”

– Mystery Writers of America Grand Master James Lee Burke.
  A Scourge of Vipers "The character of Liam (Mulligan) is going into his fourth book in this series, but this is most definitely a stand-alone novel that can be read by suspense lovers who may have somehow missed the first brilliant books by this author. A quick and compelling story of murder, ethics, and very tough decisions for local law and government to make, this is a powerful crime story with fantastic plotting. . . . Every word is more than entertaining.”

-- Suspense Magazine.