A fourth chapter in the race to the bottom between the state of Rhode Island and Providence Dispatch reporter Liam Mulligan (Providence Rag, 2014, etc.).
Ever since the Dispatch was purchased by General Communications Holdings International, Mulligan’s career has been on life support. The only reason Managing Editor Charles Twisdale doesn’t fire him is that he’d be eligible to collect unemployment while he beat the bushes for his next job. But the Ocean State is giving Mulligan a run for his money in the hard-luck stakes. Now that Mulligan’s old pal Gov. Fiona McNerney, whose years in the convent earned her the sobriquet Attila the Nun, is considering a bill to legalize sports betting in Little Rhody, money is flooding into the state. The goal is to purchase—um, influence—lawmakers on both sides of the issue; the effect is to throw the state’s normal racketeering-cum-bribery apparatus, represented by Dominic “Whoosh” Zerelli, Mulligan’s elderly bookmaker, into turmoil. Suspecting that the time has come to turn in his chips, Whoosh urges Mulligan to take over his book—a move that doesn’t sit at all well with his great-nephew Mario Zerelli. And there are murders too—not of anyone worth mourning but enough to set a pair of cops Mulligan dubs the Homicide Twins on his tail. The fade-out finds Mulligan wondering whether to stake his future on the mean streets of Providence or the online reaches of the rival Ocean State Rag.
The mystery this time is no more than a pendant to a frantic, funny, unsparing account of the corrosive power of big money on print journalism, state government and the fragile souls who fill out the cast. Enjoy it on those terms, and you'll be sorry when it's over.