Thursday, May 29, 2008

From Crime To Crime

This is the week that I have started physiotherapy to rehabilitate my knee after my recent surgery. I have had to endure this procedure before at the hands of therapists who no doubt would have worked for the Nazis in the 40s. As I grimace through the contortions while they manipulate my limb (ironically, it was an unplanned contortion that got me in this mess in the first place) I take little solace in the fact that I can read while they torture me.

The reading I have chosen to undertake at this time is an excellent collection of short stories written by Dennis Palumbo entitled From Crime to Crime: Mind-Boggling Tales of Mystery and Murder.

I would like to think it was sheer coincidence that I would read such a tome while plotting my revenge on those all too willing to cause me pain. The truth of the matter is I have been eager to read this book for some time.

Dennis Palumbo was recently a guest on our radio show on a couple of occasions; an interesting gentleman who has had more than one interesting career. Formerly, he was a Hollywood screenwriter, working on such television shows as Welcome Back Kotter. He also penned one of my favourite movies of all time, My Favorite Year (a DVD I will now make the point of picking up).

Dennis gave that all up to become a psychotherapist in Hollywood, a profession in a town where there is no shortage of patients. But he hasn’t given up writing completely, thus his latest collection of short stories.

If you are a fan of the old “drawing room mysteries” then you’ll love this collection. There are twelve stories in the book, but the first nine deal with the same core characters; a group of friends who call themselves “The Smart Guys Marching Society,” a collection of amateur sleuths who resemble the author and his closest friends.

There is a therapist, an actor, a journalist and a lawyer, plus rounding out the group is Isaac, an older pseudo relative of the therapist’s wife who has joined the group that meets every Sunday at the therapist’s house for food, guy talk and the solving of the occasional mystery.

Let me throw out a hackneyed term that many use when reviewing a great book. This book is a true page turner! There were times when I had other things that I needed to do yet I found myself saying, “Just let me read one more story!” I honestly couldn’t put it down.

All of the clues for the stories are laid out for you to try and figure out the crime. I felt quite superior when I figured out the “who” in the first story, even though I didn’t get the “how,” and of course I then proceeded to go 0-for-the-rest-of-the-book! Still, it was an enjoyable read all the way through and I even laughed out loud a couple of times, which really confounded my physiotherapist.

As I mentioned, the last three stories have nothing to do with “The Smart Guys Marching Society.” While I did enjoy them, especially one dealing with a young Albert Einstein, I found myself wanting to read more of the exploits of the crime solving quintet, whom I began to think of as real friends that I got to know. Without giving anything away, I think my favourite story was one that dealt with a lovely young lady, a truly unique and bizarre crime and a yacht. That’s all I will say.

Since most of the stories had food involved, I will liken this book to a great restaurant meal. You have the first nine stories which are akin to your main course. After enjoying the experience you then find yourself with a handful of delectable mints which themselves are quite enjoyable, but they don’t take away from your enjoyment of the meal. It’s a restaurant that one anticipates they get invited back to for another meal soon.

I hope there will be more of “The Smart Guys Marching Society” in the future. Heck, I’d even kill to get more stories out of them and right now I’m thinking that physiotherapist would make a pretty good looking corpse.

That’s the Stuph – the way I see it.

1 comment:

  1. You wouldn`t be the first person who wanted to reciprocate the heavy dose of pain inflicted by those in the field of physiotherapy.

    But beware, I suspect that the Professional Order of Physiotherapists of Quebec is aware of the possibility of "patient payback time", and have somehow organized goon squads to put revengeful patients in their place - they can clearly give pain, but can`t take it!