By Den­nis Palumbo

Montreal Times - - News -

Dr. Daniel Ri­naldi is a psy­chol­o­gist who also serves as a con­sul­tant with the po­lice de­part­ment of his na­tive Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia, in which he specif­i­cally deals with the vic­tims of vi­o­lent crimes and the trauma they go through as a re­sult. Af­ter a typ­i­cal long day of deal­ing and work­ing with such sen­si­tive cases, Ri­naldi likes to un­wind by lis­ten­ing to jazz CDs – es­pe­cially by Miles Davis -- on his home stereo sys­tem.

How­ever, it was one night as Ri­naldi was lis­ten­ing to a Miles Davis CD that a bul­let was fired right through his front win­dow and embed­ded it­self into a wall in­side his home, thereby shat­ter­ing the tran­quil­ity of that evening down time he hoped to en­joy. Some­how, he un­will­ingly ends up in the mid­dle of a do­mes­tic dis­pute that he never wanted to get mixed up with, which in­volved his neigh­bour Joy Stead­man and her boyfriend, in which she told her jilted lover that she was cur­rently dat­ing Dr. Ri­naldi (which was, of course, false).

And this rather near­fa­tal mis­un­der­stand­ing evolved into one of Dr. Ri­naldi’s most bizarre, dis­turb­ing and vi­o­lent cases of his ca­reer, which is told in breath­less de­tail in Den­nis Palumbo’s lat­est pot­boiler Head Wounds.

Palumbo, him­self a li­censed psy­cho-ther­a­pist, is also an award-win­ning Hol­ly­wood screen­writer and best-sell­ing mys­tery nov­el­ist. Head Wounds is the fifth novel fea­tur­ing Dr. Daniel Ri­naldi; and even if you haven’t read the pre­vi­ous four Ri­naldi mys­ter­ies, Head Wounds will au­to­mat­i­cally draw you into the story from the be­gin­ning, and re­lent­lessly won’t let you go un­til its bizarre, fiery con­clu­sion. And from that sin­gle gun­shot in the night time, Ri­naldi is thrust into a deadly cat-and-mouse game with Se­bas­tian Mad­dox, a highly psy­chotic computer geek and mur­derer (who is a cross be­tween Han­ni­bal Lechter and “Scor­pio”, the muchde­tested sniper killer from the first Dirty Harry movie). Through his mas­tery of computer tech­nol­ogy, Mad­dox fol­lows Ri­naldi through his cell phones and lap­top com­put­ers to bait him and cause him phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal harm by killing peo­ple whom Ri­naldi is fa­mil­iar with, whether they be col­leagues, pa­tients, or close friends.With the help of FBI agent Glo­ria Reese and crusty re­tired FBI agent Lyle Barnes, they are in­volved in a des­per­ate race against time to stop Se­bas­tian Mad­dox be­fore he gets to the peo­ple who are close to Ri­naldi, and end their lives in a rather sav­age man­ner.

This book is clev­erly crafted and cer­tainly de­liv­ers when it comes to edge-of-your-seat sus­pense. Just as you breath­lessly fol­low Ri­naldi in his pur­suit to pre­vent an­other vic­tim at the hands of Se­bas­tian Mad­dox, Palumbo brings about an­other twist that is just as ter­ri­fy­ing and just as chill­ing. As well, Palumbo al­lows for his pro­tag­o­nist to have a lit­tle soft, sen­si­tive spot to him, which comes in the form of his late wife Bar­bara, who was bru­tally mur­dered, and how she some­what in­ad­ver­tently be­comes in­volved in Mad­dox’s macabre plot to get even with Ri­naldi.And like Mike Ham­mer with New York and Sam Spade with San Fran­cisco, Palumbo ef­fec­tively uses Ri­naldi’s home­town of Pitts­burgh as a can­vas of what his world is all about, and where he plies his trade, from sub­urbs like Oak­land to PNC Park, the home of the Pitts­burgh Pi­rates.

Head Wounds is an ab­sorb­ing crime thriller that will sharply broad­side you every time you think that Dr. Daniel Ri­naldi will come to the log­i­cal con­clu­sion of a cer­tain as­pect of this very dark case. It makes for great hot read­ing for a chilly au­tumn night.

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