Author:  Dennis Palumbo
Publisher: Tallfellow® Press, Inc
ISBN: 978-1-931290-60-9

Click Here To Purchase From Crime to Crime: Mind-Boggling Tales of Mystery and Murder

In his introduction to this collection of “armchair mysteries”, Dennis Palumbo traces the history of such mysteries back to Edgar Allan Poe. As steeped in tradition as this genre might be, these twelve tales are all thoroughly up to date, taking place largely in a contemporary domestic setting.

From Crime to Crime is based on Palumbo’s own experiences with his friends, who all used to meet together at the author’s home in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles. In those days they all reckoned that they were pretty smart, but that was a fairly long time ago… Though Palumbo does change a few of the professions (but, most notably, not his own), most of the dialogue and interactions between the characters are fictional.

Palumbo describes his core characters as ‘reasonably successful baby boomers,’ who regularly meet at ‘weekly Sunday afternoon bull sessions’. These meetings, of what they dubbed the ‘Smart Guys Marching Society’, allow them the chance to explore what’s been happening around them during the past week, freeing them up to solve murders and to resolve quandaries that they encounter in their daily lives. In brief, From Crime to Crime proves that group thinking really works!

In what could easily be rewritten as dinner theater pieces, all the mysteries that form the larger part of this collection of short stories are described in dialogue that takes place between Mark (‘an Intelligence officer turned journalist’), Fred (‘a lawyer by trade, but philosopher by avocation’), Bill (‘a long-time actor and theater director’), and the narrator himself (‘a psycho-therapist, with years of handling conflicts’). However, the fun (and solving) really starts when Uncle Isaac joins the group. As the stories unfold, so do the characters transform into our close associates, with whom we eagerly embark on the next crime-solving spree.

Palumbo’s straightforward narration, which is largely presented in the form of lively repartee that takes place between the five main characters, suits the unfolding of the crimes that have taken place within their eye- or earshot. Despite their conversation clearly being that of experts in their own divergent fields, it is highly accessible to the average reader. The references to leading psychologists (such as Jung) and film directors (such as Hitchcock and Tarantino) serve to add spice and context to the dialogue.

The focus throughout these stories is on the unraveling of the mysteries. Although the meetings start with a humorous interchange on topics of relevance to the daily lives of the main characters, it soon narrows down to a description of a crime that has recently occurred. After the description of the crime scene, a bout of verbal parrying, involving the asking of many pertinent questions and the musing about suppositions as to how the crime was committed, the solution in each case is arrived at, all within thirty pages or less.

Rounding out From Crime to Crime are three mysteries which, though not quite fitting into the mold of the Smart Guys tales, feature such interesting characters as a female psychologist sleuth and a cash-strapped pay clerk named Albert Einstein. So, despite most of the characters being male, there is much of interest to women readers as well, with the approach to women being empathic and appreciative throughout. Both the language used and the crimes described are tastefully presented, encouraging the mental puzzling out of the mysteries concerned, rather than consisting of a nail-biting suspenseful over-dramatization of the action that tends, these days, to be the usual fare.    

Dennis Palumbo, M.A., MFT is a licensed psychotherapist, to whom the unraveling of mysteries comes as naturally as does the unveiling of the intricacies of the human psyche. No wonder that he thrives in the drawing room milieu, as he was formerly a Hollywood screenwriter, and has even been nominated for a WGA Award for Best Screenplay.

Entertaining, witty and up to the moment, this collection of short stories is well worth the read, and might even inspire you to start your own focus group!     

Click Here To Purchase From Crime to Crime: Mind-Boggling Tales of Mystery and Murder

 Click Here To Read An Interview With Dennis Palumbo