Fresh from the Most Corrupt State competition comes a second persuasive entry that links pretty much every citizen of Providence to a child-snuff-porn ring.
Cosmo Scalici, convinced that he deserves more respect as a waste recycler who mainly feeds trash to pigs, is less than happy when one of his hogs beats him out for the child’s hand that he’s just glimpsed. Soon after a post-slaughter autopsy confirms Scalici’s find, along with his dim prospects for respect, someone—State Police Capt. Steve Parisi won’t confirm whether it’s Salvatore Maniella, Rhode Island’s premier pornographer—gets shot to death and takes a thoroughly disfiguring header off Newport’s scenic Cliff Walk. The two incidents are obviously linked, but in order to connect the dots, reporter Liam Mulligan, of the dying Providence Dispatch, will have to wade through a pit of waist-high filth: an online ring of child pornographers, a vigilante who’s riding around town executing same, an interchangeable series of pole dancers coming on to him (who knew prostitution was legal in Rhode Island until 2010?) and bodyguards warning him to quit hassling Sal Maniella’s daughter Vanessa, queen of the city’s strip clubs, and of course Mulligan’s estranged wife, Dorcas, who phones him every time she goes off her meds. The high-casualty plot is a mess. But the epic, warts-and-all portrait of the city is scathing; ulcer-ridden wiseacre Mulligan (Rogue Island, 2010) is never less than compelling company; and the analogies between the newspaper business and the porn business are spot-on.
As in Mulligan’s hard-nosed debut, the real star here is Providence, which the author knows intimately.