Phillip Tomasso III

"Mind Play"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark JUN 11, 2000)

Mind Play by Phillip Tomasso

Randy Cook is a newspaper photographer. One evening while shooting a fire scene, he sees the image of boy trapped by flames through the image of his camera lens. Without a second thought, he risks his own life to save the boy, Clark Meyers, by yelling for him to jump into his arms. Randy becomes Rochester New York's local hero, even the competing newspaper is nominating him for the Hero of the Year award.

But Randy does not feel good about this rescue. He doesn't feel like himself and he's not sleeping due to nightmares in which he is a killer. His coworkers and wife think that he might be experiencing shock. He's trying to reach inside to figure this out. Meanwhile, his college dorm friend is in the headlines for killing the governor and himself. After the funeral, Randy's college girlfriend telephones him asking to meet right away because she doesn't believe their college friend killed the governor on his own. She believes this is tied to some hypnotic behavior tests that they participated in ten years earlier.

Although the two reviewers at give this book rather substantial ratings, I was not as enthralled with the novel. Randy Cook and the rest of the characters are developed well enough. It is nice to see a positive husband and wife relationship in a thriller and Randy Cook is the right mix of common sense and humanity. Cook, like Robert Crais' Elvis Cole character, is a sensitive man of the nineties. Tomasso also does well with the dialogue moving the reader through the novel. However, at times the writing style is little insulting. Too many times he further explains what the conversation all ready implies. Tomasso should trust the intelligence of his readers a little more.

The real problem I have with the novel, though, is the plot's premise. Mind Play is based on the idea that subjects under hypnoses can be made to do things that they wouldn't normally do. Not that I am an expert in this field, but I was taught that under hypnosis you will not do anything you are not comfortable with. I needed this novel to explain, if not from page one, at least by the end of the novel, why these subjects would kill others (and themselves) under hypnosis. I just don't buy the zombie act. Since this is not explained, I feel that Tomasso is using a cheap technique by playing on unfounded fears. I felt this was confirmed at the end when Randy and Jamie Cook talk about the need to make sure this awful thing doesn't happen to others. I also hate when characters moralize.

Tomasso is working on a second novel with his editor. There is enough of this novel that shows that Tomasso has a talent for building consistent characters and bringing them through some fast paced scenes. He also knows enough of the technical climate around him that I think with the help of a editor, a good novel will come from him. Hopefully, Mind Play will turn out to be an anomaly for this writer.

  • reader rating: from 5 reviews

(back to top)

Bibliography: (with links to

Nick Tartaglia Thrillers:


(back to top)

Book Marks:


(back to top)

About the Author:

Phillip Tomasso III has had more than thirty short stories and articles published in a wide variety of magazines. Some of the short stories include I Wanna Be a Cowboy in Western Digest and Unmasked in Crossroads, a horror magazine. He also conducts author interviews for the Charlotte Austin Review, an on-line magazine. A screen playing is currently being written for his novel, Tenth House.

He works full time as an Employment Law Paralegal for the Eastman Kodak Company and lives in Rochester, New York with his wife and their three children. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014