Cliff Walk – Bruce DeSilva

cliff walk

The pieces of a young child’s body being eaten in a pig farm. A pornographer shot dead. Legal prostitution. Religious zealots picketing adult clubs. A crusading attorney general, who is also a nun, pushing women’s rights. All in the little state of Rhode Island. Criminal reporter Liam Mulligan and his collection of personal ringtones is at it again.

   “He won’t hurt you none,” Zerilli said. “He’s fuckin’ harmless.”
   “Where’d you get him?”
   “The pound.”
   “Got a name for him yet?”
   “Calling him Shortstop.”
   “How come?”
   “‘Cause Centerfielder’s a stupid fuckin’ name.”

The dialogue is quick and realistic. At least in the way you want it to be real. DeSilva does an admirable job with the characters, rounding them fully so that none are a caricature of what you thought they should be. It is witty and comedic. But don’t let that fool you. It needs to be. The subject matter is dark and disturbing on a visceral level that few of us ever want to admit exists. To and past the point that the prostitutes and their plight are the lighter of the evil that reeks throughout the story.

…When I got home, I was still jumpy. I lay in bed drinking Bushmills from a pint bottle, hoping it would calm me down. I used the remote to snap on the TV and channel surfed until I stumbled on a favorite movie, The assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. As the whiskey kicked in, I forgot to keep my eyes open, afraid of what my dreams might bring.
   I knew I’d lost the fight when a bloody little girl walked into the room and asked me to help her find her arms…

Mulligan travels this dark underbelly of Rhode Island hunting child rapists and killers and pornographers. Until he finds himself hunting the killer who is hunting them as well.

This is dark crime drama. It is also spiritual. Somewhere early on, Mulligan remarks that he believes prostitution is a victimless crime. That is until the victim’s bodies begin to pile up on him. By the end he is not sure who is the real victim and who is the real criminal.

Mulligan has been standing on the banks of the cesspool he reports upon. This time the tide has risen and he may have begun to sink in.


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