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David Dalrymple
Growing up the son of Philadelphia’s most notorious mob boss, Nick had two choices: Sell his soul or flee. It seemed like a lose-lose. Dr. Nick Carlotti, a self-centered but gifted plastic surgeon refused to follow in his father’s ruthless footsteps. For eighteen years he remains unscathed by his family’s dark legacy but when his mother dies in a suspicious fiery car crash, he has no choice but to confront the beast head on. An hour before the accident, witnesses observe Liza Carlotti conversing with state senator Lloyd Mays, an odd meeting given Mays’ previous efforts to take down the mob. Nick believes Mays may be responsible for his mother’s death, but it just doesn’t add up. Too many ties still exist between the accident and his father’s men, including a series of clues his mother left in her journal, a bible, and a strange paperback book. When a small-time drug dealer ends up under Nick’s care after a failed hit, the mystery deepens. Detective Maurice Rawls, a zealous Philadelphia detective uncovers strange connections between Senator Mays, a missing lounge singer, a dead prostitute, and Nick’s mother. On separate but converging paths, Nick and Rawls race to seek the truth. But the truth can get you killed.
In this engaging debut mystery, the surgeon son of a mob boss discovers that his own life is in jeopardy as he searches for the person responsible for his mother’s deadly car accident. Dalrymple draws on his own experiences as a surgeon and medical student at the University of Pennsylvania to tell the story of Nick Carlotti, son of Philadelphia crime boss Rock Carlotti, who becomes suspicious about his mother’s death in a car accident--and believes that the shooting of one of his patients may be connected to his mother’s untimely death. Nick seeks to uncover the truth and the possible involvement of state senator Lloyd Mays, who spoke at a fundraiser his mother attended at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the night of the crash. Meanwhile, veteran detective Maurice Rawls investigates the apparent suicide of Willie Santini, a mob enforcer, seeking to discover if the suicide was a murder and how it may be linked to the shooting of Nick’s patient.

Dalrymple’s complex, multi-dimensional characters will draw readers into this well-plotted novel, a story whose suspense percolates right up to the explosive conclusion. What sets Carlotti apart, though, is a feeling of authenticity. Dalrymple’s knowledge of medicine and the hierarchy of medical professionals adds credibility to the storyline without overburdening readers with technical terms. His portrayal of Nick highlights not only a son’s quest to disassociate from his father’s mafia connections but also reveals how the intensity of medical school and residency can interfere with personal relationships.

Also imbuing the story with authenticity while hinting at the undercurrent of organized crime activity in the city: the author’s depiction of Philadelphia neighborhoods and sites. Dalrymple’s depiction of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building is spot on, and his handling of Senator Mays and his legislative responsibilities is mostly accurate. Suspense fans, especially of the Keystone State variety, will find much here that’s memorable.

Takeaway: A mob boss’s straight-and-narrow son investigates his mother’s death in this convincing Pennsylvania thriller.

Great for fans of: W.E.B. Griffin, Lisa Scottoline’s Lady Killer.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A