Liam Mulligan, Hero of “Cliff Walk” by Bruce DeSilva

Who are you?

My name is Liam Mulligan, but just call me Mulligan because I don’t like to use my given name. I was named after my maternal grandfather, a Providence, R.I., cop who was murdered by the mob when I was a kid. Whenever I hear the name “Liam,” I picture the chalk outline of his body on a cracked Federal Hill sidewalk. I played basketball as a walk-on at Providence College. For the last 20 years or so, I’ve been an investigative reporter for a dying Providence newspaper, and I’m darned good at it. In “Rogue Island” (Forge, 2010), I figured out who was behind an arson spree that had the cops baffled. In “Cliff Walk” (Forge, 2012), I uncovered a murder-and-political-corruption conspiracy behind the state’s thriving sex trade.

How do your friends see you?

They think I’m a stubborn s.o.b. with a smart mouth that often gets me into serious trouble.

How do your enemies see you?

They also think I’m a stubborn s.o.b. with a smart mouth that gets me into serious trouble. They also tend to underestimate me.

How does the author see you?

Bruce DeSilva? That clown thinks he IS me. I’m an investigative reporter; he used to be. Neither of us do well with authority. And we both get a lot of complaints about our smart mouths. But he’s not me. He’s 25 years older and eight inches shorter. He’s a grandfather, for Chrissake.

Do you talk about your achievements?

DeSilva likes to brag about the Edgar Award and the MaCavity Award he won for “Rogue Island.” Me? I never talk about stuff like that. Never! DeSilva ratted me out by telling readers I once won a Pulitzer Prize, but journalism awards are crap. You just stick them in a drawer and move on to the next story.

Do you have any money troubles?

I work for a dying newspaper in a small city. What do you think?

What do you believe?

I believe in defending the powerless. I believe in exposing public corruption and organized crime — which in Providence is pretty much the same thing. Although my job as an investigative reporter is to expose the bad guys, I see nothing wrong with placing a bet with my local bookie or paying a small bribe to get my decrepit Ford Bronco through the DMV inspection. I’ve learned that in Providence, graft comes in good and bad varieties, just like cholesterol. The bad kind enriches powerful politicians and their rich, greedy friends. The good kind puts braces on the teeth of the children of underpaid state workers. Without the good kind, not much would get done in Rhode Island and nothing at all would get done on time. I’m a lapsed Roman Catholic. I used to think I knew what I believed about religion and sexual morality, but after what I saw as I dug into the state’s sex trade in “Cliff Walk,” those long-held beliefs have been badly shaken.

Has anyone ever betrayed you?

Hell, yeah, but if you want to know who you’ll have to read the books.

What was your childhood like?

I grew up on the second floor of a three-story walk-up in the working-class Mount Hope section of Providence with a younger sister and a younger brother. My father was a milkman. Cancer took him when I was still in high school.

What is your most prized possession?

A June, 1935, issue of the pulp magazine “Black Mask” with the first printing of Raymond Chandler’s short story, “Nevada Gas.” Why? Because after the separation from my banshee of a wife, Dorcas, it’s about all I’ve got left.

What is your favorite music? Why?

The blues — Buddy Guy, Son Seals, Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, Koko Taylor, Tommy Castro. It’s the soundtrack of my life.

If you were at a store, what ten items would be in your shopping cart?

Killian’s Irish Red beer, frozen pizza, Maalox, and cigars. Who has money for ten items?

How do you envision your future?

I work for a newspaper. Newspapers are dying. And I’m not any good at doing anything else.

Where can we find you online?”

http://brucedesilva.com

http://brucedesilva.wordpress.com

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