By Dennis Palumbo
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.