Review: Pittsburgh psychologist Daniel Rinaldi is all but kidnapped by the FBI so that he can treat one of their best agents — who is suffering from night terrors — so that he can assist them in the case of a serial killer that is targeting anyone involved in the capture and conviction of another serial killer, in the aptly titled Night Terrors, the third mystery in this series by Dennis Palumbo.
Lyle Barnes had actually already retired from the agency, but his skill set is such that the FBI believes he can add value to their investigation. Unfortunately, Barnes has ideas of his own about how to go about capturing the killer so he escapes from the safe house in which he was placed only to have the FBI — and other law enforcement officers — now looking for him, too. Meanwhile, the mother of a young man, who had confessed to the murder and dismemberment of a wealthy corporate executive, asks Rinaldi to interview her son. She says he's innocent because he was helping her clean out the attic the night of the murder. "Why would she lie," Rinaldi asks the young man when he meets with him. "To protect me. I'm her son and she loves me," he says. "So she'd lie to keep you out of prison?" "My mother'd do anything for me. Just like I'd do anything for her. Anything!"
Daniel Rinaldi is far more of an action-oriented private investigator than the thoughtful and methodical psychologist one imagines him to be in Night Terrors. That's not to say the character — or the storyline — suffers for it, just that it's rather unexpected to see him in as many close call situations as he finds himself. The two principal plots are well structured, though what is arguably the primary of the two — the one involving the serial killer — is also the weaker and not nearly as cleverly devised as the other. The inevitable connection between them is also a bit tenuous, more convenient than necessary. Still, this is overall a strong and thoughtfully crafted crime novel, one that has a number of surprising plot twists and, better still for mystery fans, one that is peppered with clues dropped in plain sight, easy to overlook as being innocuous at the time and yet critical to the solution.