Sunday, January 7, 2018

HEAD WOUNDS (2018) by Dennis Palumbo

Head WoundsHead Wounds by Dennis Palumbo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Talk about a roller coaster ride! This is a stressful thriller full of terrible acts. If you're a fan of shows like Criminal Minds, you'll devour this 5th entry in the Dr. Daniel Rinaldi series. As a psychologist, he often consults with the Pittsburgh police working with victims of violent crimes. This time around the stakes have been ratcheted up to unbearable.

FIRST SENTENCE: "Miles Davis saved my life."

THE STORY: A dying man directs Dr. Daniel Rinaldi to a dossier with information on his wife's death. Twelve years earlier Rinaldi and his wife Barbara were mugged down at the Point. Both were shot but Barbara died. "All my forty-plus years condensed into a stack of documents, copied records, data printed off the Internet. The gains and losses, both professionally and personally, that made up my life."

With an explosive start, the reader is caught in the same web that ensnares Rinaldi and his friends. The scary part is that they are "Engaged in a duel to the death of which everyone around us was unaware. With an enemy about whom no one knew."

The reader is warned that things are going to turn to horror and they do. The dread builds and results in horrific situations. There doesn't seem to be a way out alive.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Suspension of disbelieve is required. There is language, some sex, and painful violence. The stakes are the highest yet in the series. The story can be read without knowledge of earlier books, but if you are familiar with the series, the situations are even more disturbing. Interesting off-beat characters add to the story which is well-plotted and well-written. I'll have to admit that this was a disturbing read for me, but then I have been known to turn off crime shows or at least walk out of the room.

You don't have to know Pittsburgh, but the descriptions of wonderful places like the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh and the view from Mount Washington will make you want to visit.

BOTTOM LINE: Dennis Palumbo's mysteries are page turners and highly readable. It's not necessary, but I would still recommend reading the series in order. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you're not squeamish.
Genre: Psychological thriller, Suspense
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (February 6, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1464208166
ISBN-13: 978-1464208164

Disclaimer: An electronic copy of this book was provided to me by NetGalley/Poisoned Pen Press for a fair review.

Dennis Palumbo, formerly a Hollywood screenwriter, is now a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. He's the author of a mystery collection, From Crime to Crime, and his short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, The Strand, and elsewhere. Head Wounds is the fifth in the Daniel Rinaldi series. His first Daniel Rinaldi mystery, Mirror Image was published in 2010, followed by Fever Dream in 2011, Night Terrors in 2013, and Phantom Limb (2014) He was formerly a Hollywood screenwriter and his credits include the feature film My Favorite Year. He also wrote for Welcome Back, Kotter.

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