As I have written about countless times, I love finding those inside jokes in mysteries. It never fails to make me smile to read about a character reading another author's work. It's a nice homage from one author to another.
Bruce DeSilva's debut novel Rogue Island is loaded with these references. DeSilva's hero is old-school newspaperman Liam Mulligan, who covers Providence, Rhode Island. He grew up in the area and knows every inch of his hometown as well as being
on a first-name basis with mobsters, bookies, cops, fire fighters, attorneys and strippers – mainly from his childhood.
Liam also is an avid reader. During the course of Rogue Island, Liam shows his good taste in novels with references to Dennis Lehane, Robert Parker, Ken Bruen and Tim Dorsey.
But tough-guy Liam draws the line at poetry. When a friend begins to read a slim volume of poetry by Boston poet Patricia Smith, Liam calls her "some lame poet." In the next scene balks when his lady friend wants to read aloud some of Smith's work.
But when he hears the poem -- which DeSilva includes -- he quickly changes his mind about poetry. Liam also wants to see the poet's photo and calls Smith "hot."
I doubt that Smith's husband would object to Liam calling her "hot" because she is married to DeSilva. And I am sure that by now Smith has forgiven Liam for calling her lame, because she is anything but. This reference is an amusing way for DeSilva to pay homage to his wife's work and it also fits nicely in the story.
Patricia Smith is an award-winning poet and performance artist and a four-time national individual champion of the notorious Poetry National Slam.
In his debut, DeSilva, former Associated Press reporter, delivers a strong, well-plotted
mystery. Rogue Island looks at organized crime, political conspiracies and the newspaper industry. And a bit of poetry, too.
PHOTO: Patricia Smith and Bruce DeSilva in San Francisco