Friday, September 27, 2019

FFB Review: FEVER DREAM (2011) by Dennis Palumbo Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Barry Ergang is back on the blog today with an all new review for FFB. For the full list of reading suggestions, check out Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom blog. 

FEVER DREAM (2011) by Dennis Palumbo

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Clinical psychologist Dr. Daniel Rinaldi, in addition to maintaining a private practice, has been a consultant to the Pittsburgh Police Department for seven years. A victim of a violent crime himself, he understands only too well how profoundly other victims, whether official or civilian, can suffer and need help to recover when impacted by crime-bred violence.

In the middle of a therapy session with a carjacking victim, Rinaldi gets a call from Pittsburgh PD Detective Eleanor Lowrey, with whom he’s worked in the past. She explains that there’s “An armed robbery in progress. Midtown, the First Allegheny Bank. We’ve got uniforms, SWAT…Looks like a couple perps…Apparently somebody’s dead in there.” Rinaldi terminates the session and heads to the crime scene.

Although there are four hostages still in the bank, one, a woman named Treva Williams, has been released. She’s an emotional wreck, and Rinaldi does his best to console her under the circumstances. When the bank is finally sieged and Rinaldi is among those who get inside, what they find is utter carnage. Only a wounded security guard named Vickers has survived.

But while he’s eventually drawn into the situation as a therapist for Treva Williams, Rinaldi also becomes involved with the gubernatorial campaign of  District Attorney Leland Sinclair, with whom he has a tenuous relationship, as well as varying mutual  relationships with members of the Pittsburgh Police Department—i.e., the aforementioned Eleanor Lowrey: potentially amorous; her partner Detective Harry Polk:  tenuous at best; and Lieutenant Stu Biegler: outright hostility. Moreover, Rinaldi learns from a professional colleague that a relatively young man, Andrew Parker, whom he knew from his time working at a psychiatric facility called Ten Oaks, has apparently committed suicide.

In what starts out as an apparently straightforward thriller but ultimately becomes, additionally, a neatly-paced and deftly-rendered whodunit, Rinaldi finds himself up against vicious killers and criminal plots in his efforts to solve multiple crimes and stay alive.   

Fever Dream is the second of Dennis Palumbo’s Daniel Rinaldi mysteries. As I’ve indicated in reviews of other titles in this series, I don’t like to provide more than the sketchiest sense of the plotlines lest I inadvertently reveal any of the twists and surprises in a story with a superior sense of characterization befitting an author who, like Rinaldi, is a clinical psychologist, and who, as a Pittsburgh native, delivers a strong sense of place.    That said, fans of mysteries which are both hardboiled and cerebral owe it to themselves to have a look at this novel and the series of which it’s a part, as long as they aren’t squeamish about street language, on-screen violence and, in some of the entries, sexuality.

© 2019 Barry Ergang

Among other works, Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang's own impossible crime novelette, The Play of Light and Shadow, is available at Amazon and Smashwords as is his recently released book of poetry, Farrago, and other entertaining reads. For more on Barry’s books as well as his editing services, check out Barry’s website.

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