Bentivegna Novel Reviewed

October 10, 2006

The Lords Of Greenwich
By Joseph Bentivegna
1st Books
$15

By Gerald Demeusy

A clever mixture of medicine, murder and Connecticut politics – spiced with an ingenious scam at the Bridgeport jai alai fronton – are ingredients that make The Lords of Greenwich a must read.

Written by Dr. Joseph Bentivegna, a Fairfield eye surgeon, the book treats readers to double intrigue with plots that involve a hotly-contested gubernatorial election and the scheme of a nearly bankrupt doctor, Bryant Willoughby, who secretly implants reflex-enhancement drugs in the eyes of two Basque jai alai players who are his patients.

In conspiracy with a quartet of gamblers, Willoughby takes a percentage of more than $300,000 won by betting on the two players until one of the gamblers makes the mistake of winning a long-shot quinella bet that alerts the fronton to the probability of a scam, and it is quickly discovered by installing cameras at the betting counters.

Malcolm Rummel, the fronton owner, hires a squad of goons to track down Bob Dusza, one of the crooked gamblers. Under threat of death unless the ill-gotten money is returned, Dusza surrenders a $40,000 initial payment during a violent confrontation, but mysteriously dies, seemingly from fright until the true cause – a heart attack induced by a time-release microcapsule of fatal medication given to him earlier that day by Willoughby.

Even as Willoughby awaits trial and sentencing for the crime of manslaughter, the state election is won by Richard Campagna, the Republican gubernatorial candidate whose successful campaign for office is spearheaded by Adam Bortz, a personable Greenwich bachelor endowed with the gifts of political expertise, a Yale education and the ability to outrace his Democrat counterparts for money required to conduct an effective advertising blitz.

One of Bortz’s secret weapons is Kerri O’Brien, campaign manager of the Democratic Party whose father believed it was preferable to have syphilis than be a Republican. Despite their opposing political views, Kerri and Bortz often meet socially, and occasionally broker agreements to resolve controversial issues and end mudslinging statements by candidates of both parties. It’s apparent to the reader their relationship will ultimately blossom into serious romance.

The Lords of Greenwich reflects Dr. Bentivegna’s familiarity with the ordeal of conducting a political campaign; avoiding primaries by dangling some of the spoils to rival candidates; appeasing voters of the same party who disagree with platform issues; and maintaining a relationship with a person of power in the opposing party to stay abreast of political trickery.

Bentivegna is a graduate of St. Francis College and Hershey Medical School. He did his internship at Brown University and residency at New York Medical College. His previous books include The Neglected and Abused: A Physician’s Year in Haiti and When to Refuse Treatment. He was a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1994.
Crime reporter Gerald Demeusy is the author of Ten Weeks Of Terror, A Chronicle Of The Making Of A Killer, about the last murderer executed in Connecticut before Michael Ross, Joseph “Mad Dog” Taborsky.

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