Phantom Limb: Dennis Palumbo
A phantom is something that can exist in the mind of a person but is not really there. I can haunt them, cause them to believe that something exists yet it does not. Imagine living your life as if you are going through the motions, doing things by rote yet not really thinking anyone sees you or cares that you are there. Sometimes people lose a limb and think it’s too attached to them even though it’s gone. An apparition, a vision that seems to reoccur within the depths of a person’s mind yet that’s the only place it really exists.
Lisa Harland lives in a world that was created by others in order to make it look like she was some type of starlet or movie queen. Lisa’s life took more than a downward turn when she married a rich industrialist named Charles Harland and this ordinary girl who once filled the centerfold in Playboy, enjoyed recreational and hard drugs, drank and eventually bottomed out lived her life married to one of Pittsburgh’s richest and most dangerous businessmen. Lisa gave up on life because she was being blackmailed, threatened and had been abused by someone that was close to not only her but her husband. Someone that many feared others hated and would soon prove to be more than just an adversary but a coldhearted killer. What would you do if you were a psychologist and consultant for Pittsburgh Police Department and a client or patient came into your office and dared you to convince them to not commit suicide. Within a short 50-minute time frame consultant Daniel Rinaldi had to convince new patient Lisa Harland not to take her own life. The time 6: 10 the end game would be 7:00 P.M. using everything he had and incorporating all of his skills Daniel needed to find a way to convince Lisa to vote for life and hopefully buy himself some time to delve more into the real Lisa. But, although she agreed to a pardon for herself or a reprieve from the warden, she was far from home free. Leaving his office someone stood in her way, enter Daniel office, knocked him and out kidnapped Lisa. But why? Who and what would the end result be? Lisa’s disappearance was to be handled without the police or any law enforcement agency included. But, Charles Harland was a powerful man and one phone call would change what the demands of the kidnappers were and the chain of events would place more than just Lisa in harms way. Phantom Limb: Dennis Palumbo: Just where is this imaginary vision? Who will it strike next and why was Lisa kidnapped? Her story will unfold and readers won’t believe the outcome or who is behind what Dennis Palumbo so brilliantly delivers.
Danny has not choice to be to the Harland Estate and face a cast of characters that from the start will not be on his top ten list of favorite people. Mike Payton the security guard roughs him up and uses him for a punching bag to make sure that he’s not going to endanger his boss. A deadly killer named Sykes and his accomplice Griffin are behind the kidnapping but who orchestrated it and why? Five million in bearer bonds is what the kidnappers want. Arthur Drake is counsel for Charles Harland, Mike Payton his bodyguard, James Harland his outcast son and Detective Lieutenant Biegler whose presence creates more dissension and whose lack of proper leadership could blow it all. Added in Danny is the one that is told to deliver the ransom. When the first attempt goes sour the second proves deadly for someone. As the author reveals Lisa’s history and story we also learn more about James, the death of his younger brother, the guilt that he feels for introducing him to drugs and a downward spiral life and the end result that would alienate him from his father’s love forever.
Added in we meet the cast at Noah’s Ark the bar that Danny frequents and a veteran named Skip whose life changed and might be as volatile as an explosive bomb unless he seeks the help that Danny suggests that he get.
When both the police and the FBI question Danny and insist that he reveal his consultation with Lisa, he invokes the confidentiality clause much to the frustration of both the police and the FBI. Wanting to get Lisa back, placing himself in danger. Special Agent Gloria Russo finds herself a victim of this dangerous killer as Danny is tricked into meeting with her and before the killers can do their worst something happens and the tables are turned. Able to escape and find their way to safety, Lisa is still missing, the nurse that takes care of Charles Harland is missing and the end result is more than just tragic.
Lisa’s revelation of what happened to her at the hand of James Harland changes the complexion of the investigation for Danny as he promises not to reveal what happened to her, keeping information from the police and the FBI and knowing that she might still carry out the threat she made when she met him. But, things get hot when Danny returns home after being interrogated and can’t sleep. Finds his way to Noah’s Ark and a starling revelation is made that might link not only the identity of Julian to someone he just met but who else might be behind the kidnapping and why! Money, greed, power or was it something else that someone wanted? Just why was Lisa taken and who was the mastermind? Who is Julian? What about James? He hates his father and Lisa, did he have something to do with the murders and her kidnapping? Who are the Four horsemen?
Lies, deceits, betrayals, hate, drug, cartels, greed, power and revenge are all at the center of this novel. A recurring theme that runs throughout this novel is acceptance. Lisa wants people to accept her for the person she has become and not what she was before. James cannot reconcile himself with his feelings for what he did to his brother and knows that his father will never accept him as a true son. Danny seems to be searching for his own acceptance as he works with many agencies as a consultant and yet in many ways is an outcast. Forgiveness comes hard to so many as some of the characters like Mike Payton pay a heavy price for their actions. Often blaming himself for what happened to Lisa and not moving ahead with the investigation into her disappearance the right way and holding back information, he learns a hard lesson but not in a good way. Danny finds himself in the middle of this controversy and searches long and hard within himself whether to keep Lisa’s confidence, tell the police what she told him or just hope for a positive outcome. When the author describes what happened to Lisa on pages 186-187 you being to wonder is what Danny does or does not do is truly justified. Sergeant Harry Polk, counselor Arthur Drake, James Harland, Charles Harland, Mike Payton, Daniel Rinaldi, Skip Hines and the killers themselves: Each having their own agenda. Each one searching for their own truth and each one seeking a goal of their own: Money, greed, revenge, retribution, hate, fear in a climate filled with sex, drugs, slave trade4 and a high profile billionaire who will use his influence and power to get what he wants. This is one novel that will keep you wondering until the very end: Whose facing the hardest decisions? Whose Phantom Limb will haunt them for ever as some are not part of your body, the limb of a tree but some limbs are situations in life that some claim or state: My Life hangs on a delicate limb and hopefully it won’t break off!
Each character carrying a burden and own hidden pain whether imaginary or real it is still there. Skip his missing limb, James his hate for his father and himself causing an inner pain that will never go away. Lisa who does not regret her past but hates her present and does not want to be defined by what someone wants to bring out about her. Mike Payton hides the truth about someone and his feelings for another. Characters that have human flaws that might cost them more than the respect of Charles Harland. Gloria Reese who must face what the killers tried to do to her and yet represses it in order to not lose face at work. Each one harbors a secret but at what price?
An ending that will not only leave the reader with many unanswered questions but will bring to light something in Danny’s life that has haunted him for so long and given him pain: Phantom Limb: A phantom limb is the sensation that a missing limb or amputated part of the body feels like it’s still attached. Sensations sometimes occur after the body part is removed. Attacks occur over time but although the limb is not there in some cases the pain is real. Danny learns at the end of this novel that something that has haunted him for so long just might represent something real. The answer cannot be found within the pages of this outstanding novel but within the ones the author will pen when we find out what is next for Danny.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer