A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva (Liam Mulligan #4)

A Scourge of Vipers Book Cover

Liam Mulligan Puts the Competition on Notice – 5 Stars

There is something refreshing about a mystery based around a journalist. The authors, often former journalists, realize that there is excitement, intrigue and excitement in a plot that does not revolve around murder alone. Bruce DeSilva has upped his game with this installment and has written his most mature, detailed and entertaining novel to date.

The Plot

Determined Journalist, Liam Mulligan, continues to ply his trade in the dying days of the newspaper business. Economics of the trade have left Mulligan sitting in the office, rewriting press releases and in his free time, chasing down real news stories. His long time friend, and now governor of Rhode Island, has laid the groundwork to introduce a bill to legalize sports gambling in the state. This has attracted the interest of multiple parties. The Casinos approve but want to control the action, the Major Sports Leagues and organized crime want to stop it in its tracks, the local government wants to hold the purse strings. Mulligan finds himself in the middle of the action with a large target on his back.

My Take

In this installment of the series, DeSilva finds the perfect balance between humor and substance. From time to time I had to look at the book cover to see if I was reading a Brad Parks novel. I don’t mean that as a slight but both author write about wise cracking journalists, working thankless jobs in corrupt town while plying their trade at dying newspapers and both are superb writers.

This book is a prime example of DeSilva’s ability to flesh out a character. While characters reoccur, they tend to be less formulaic and more realistic. There are multiple reoccurring characters which could easily become caricatures. DeSilva does a great job of not only maturing the title character but also developing the supporting cast while new characters appear in the novel in an organic way.

I have to give an extra shout out to the author. He shows some real confidence in his story arc development. There were several questions that I asked myself during the first few novels that left me wondering how he would sustain this series long term. DeSilva makes some seemingly bold choices that can take this series into some new and interesting territory.

That said, I do have a minor gripe. DeSilva wears his politics on his sleeve in this installment. A couple of the current presidential hopefuls receive a thrashing at the hands of Mulligan and the other characters. DeSilva stays away of proselytizing for any one party so the ideological references should not deter most readers.

Final Thoughts

Bruce DeSilva is an author that does not get the recognition he deserves. Maybe people just want to read about bloody murders and deranged serial killers. Maybe readers have not given DeSilva a chance. While I have enjoyed all of his novels, this one stand above the rest. This installment presents us with a more mature and well rounded Liam Mulligan and showcases DeSilva’s every improving skill.

Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading.

Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest

Sex – 2.5

A couple of instances of sex. Generally playful to start and cuts away before the action. One characters uses “colorful” language to discuss another’s sex life.


F-Word – 92 instances Mild Profanity – Approx. 93 Religious Exclamations – 20

Violence – 2

A few bodies show up but the majority of the crime involved is bribery. The murders are not first hand and are side notes to the main story.

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for baseballbabble.com. Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.