Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dennis Palumbo's "Night Terrors"

Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter (My Favorite Year; Welcome Back, Kotter, etc.), Dennis Palumbo is now a licensed psychotherapist and author of Writing From the Inside Out. As a fiction writer, his short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, The Strand, Written By and elsewhere, and are collected in From Crime to Crime.

Palumbo is also the author of the Daniel Rinaldi series of mysteries. The debut novel was Mirror Image, followed by Fever Dream, and the newly released Night Terrors.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of the series:
After writing three books in my Daniel Rinaldi series, I have a pretty good feel for the continuing characters who populate my “mean streets” of Pittsburgh.

My lead character, Dr. Daniel Rinaldi, is an Italian-American psychologist who was born and raised in the Steel City (okay, so he wasn’t exactly a stretch!). He’s passionate about his work treating crime victims, is stubborn and opinionated, and has a snarky sense of humor. He’s also a former amateur boxer (Golden Gloves, Pan Am Games), so casting him for a film isn’t easy. I could see Anthony LaPaglia playing Rinaldi, or one of Hollywood’s “usual suspects” like Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman or Russell Crowe, though I really like Viggo Mortensen. I admired the intelligence, intensity and humor that he brought to his portrayal of Freud in the recent film, A Dangerous Method. I figure, if Mortensen was good enough to play the father of psychoanalysis, he’s good enough to play Dan Rinaldi.

For Noah Frye, a paranoid schizophrenic and Rinaldi’s best friend, I think it’s a toss-up between Zach Galifianakis and Jonah Hill. Both are fine comic actors with just the right amount of pathos and lunacy in their eyes.

For Eleanor Lowrey, the beautiful Pittsburgh PD homicide detective whose relationship with Rinaldi goes from professional to personal, I like either Kerry Washington (from Django Unchained and the TV series Scandal) or award-winning actress Viola Davis (Doubt, The Help, etc.)

In Night Terrors, Daniel Rinaldi is asked to treat Lyle Barnes, a whip-smart, arrogant retired FBI profiler suffering from agonizing, debilitating nocturnal visions. I could definitely see character actor David Strathairn (the Bourne movies, Good Night and Good Luck, etc.) as Barnes, though either Jeremy Irons or Sam Elliott would make fine choices, too.

Finally, as the gruff, seen-it-all veteran police sergeant Harry Polk, I’d be happy with either Dennis Farina or Michael Chiklis. Though the perfect choice would be one of my all-time favorite character actors, the late, great Jack Warden. If you remember him in The Verdict, you also recall that he stole every scene he was in!

Well, that’s my cast list. Now the next thing I need to see and hear is the words “Coming to a theater near you...”
Learn more about the book and author at Dennis Palumbo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue