Murder abounds in a pair of recent police procedural novels that are set mostly in Pittsburgh and Boston. Each is a fast-paced, gritty tale showcasing devious killers, stymied police and an assortment of FBI agents.
“Phantom Limb” by former Hollywood screenwriter Denis Palumbo (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95) is the fourth novel starring psychologist and Pittsburgh Police Department consultant Daniel Rinaldi.
He’s been involved in tough cases before – and isn’t really out looking for trouble - when Lisa Harlan, a wealthy, suicidal patient, is kidnapped outside of his office.
Her much older husband Charles, is one of the state’s richest, most powerful men; although he’s wheelchair-bound, his mind is still sharp.
Lisa, a former Playboy model and B-movie star actress, is being held for a five million dollar ransom.
Rinaldi is selected by the kidnappers to deliver it; he faces many challenges as significant problems arise.
The Pittsburgh police are investigating and the FBI is on the job too, with a diligent, hard-working agent getting intriguing results.
The intricate plot is full of nasty villains and puzzling connections; Palumbo should definitely pick up new fans with this highly entertaining tale.
“Rizzoli and Isles: Die Again” by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine, $27) is the latest of her bestselling books featuring the stars of the popular TNT television series.
Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are working on a tough, stomach-churning, strange case.
Leon Gott, a prominent big-game hunter and taxidermist, is discovered at his house hanging from the rafters of his garage, gutted like many of the animals he had killed or processed.
Soon, another body is discovered; few clues are left behind. Diligent detective work uncovers links to numerous other possible unsolved murders and disappearances.
The suspenseful crime novel opens with scenes from Botswana, where all but one of a group of tourists either died or vanished six years earlier.
Scenes from the African experience are interspersed with chapters on the current case. Rizzoli and her husband, FBI agent Gabriel Dean, travel there in search of answers.
There are many detailed forensic scenes (as would be expected); the characters are-well developed but have different relationships in the books than in the television adaptation.
Gerritsen’s loyal followers won’t be disappointed as the intriguing page-turner comes to a bloody conclusion.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.
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This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on January 11, 2014.