Seven-Inch Vinyl






Seven-Inch Vinyl

Author Donald Riggio

Reviewed by Fran Lewis


Living in the South Bronx and growing up near a record store that carried the top 100 hits is something kids today will never experience. CD’s, DVD’s and IPod’s are the way to go in 2011 but not so long ago we had stereos, our own 45’s and you were able to pick out the ones you wanted and bring them right to your own special jukebox or turntable. Playing these records, inviting your friends over for a party to dance and have some great fun brought the songs and the artists right into your own home. The greatest things was that good old 45 record never wore out, was right there where you wanted it to be and you never had to play all of the songs on a tape or CD to get to listen and dance to the ones you wanted. Nothing better than taking out those old discs and listening to the artists, looking at the different labels, doo wop sounds, Motown, watching Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and hearing the voices of DJ’s like Cousin Bruce and Alan Freed over the air on the radio to get the fun started.


Seven-Inch Vinyl might be fiction but the events in this book definitely bring back a time when the music was truly great, the artists could really sing and growing up was really fun.


Joseph Rabinowitz and Danny Cavelli were great friends. Both wound up joining the army for different reasons. Joseph loved music and learning the history of many genres, and Danny fixing cars. Author Donald Riggio describes their army tour, their friendship and their passions.


Danny and Joseph both had their own visions of what they wanted for their futures. But, fate steps in and Danny and Joseph are both in a fatal car crash leaving two dead including Danny as the third and Joseph critically injured. As Joseph rebuilds his life he becomes close to Danny’s sister Janet and here is where things begin to change. As he becomes stronger we learn more about his determination to become part of the music industry and start a life with Janet. We also meet Teddy Boyette a young man who finds his way into the music business as one door is slammed in his face another opens. Meeting or trying to get an audition with Artie Franklin proved to be the wrong move or way to go but an accidental encounter at diner with Cap Steward would be the chance of a lifetime. Cap offers him a job and chance to sing and play his guitar that he cannot turn down and one waitress named Dee a different opportunity.


As Joseph and Janet get to know each other, Teddy begins his life on the road and his music career. Janet and Joseph made a bold move and Sol and Myra Rabinowitz will now decide how they feel about their relationship. Janet hoping to win them over and Joseph relentless in his hopes for their future.


Joseph Rabinowitz was enterprising, smart and knew exactly what he wanted when he walked into Harmony Time Music Store. Playing the piano I have to admit that Harmony was where my teacher bought my music. This book brings back so many great memories. As Joseph meets Leo Klein the owner they form a strong bond, he offers him a job and his entire business soars as they now carry the top 40 hits, 45’s, 78’s, record equipment and a brand new recording studio. As Joseph helps Leo embark on their latest venture, Teddy Boyette comes to mind when he calls his friend Chanty to ask if he would like to record a record in his studio. Meeting Teddy, Chanty’s visit and his agent would forever change their lives. Helping many others get started was Joseph’s goal and the end result is still to come.


As their recording studio was built, contracts drawn up and signed and their first record made Billboard Magazine lists Teddy right up there with Fats Domino and Pat Boone. Reading about the how a 45-vinyl record was made, the history behind it and the process really is quite astounding and compelling. The songs that were sung, You Belong to Me and many others of that time period really brought it all back and made this book come alive for those of us that grew up during the 60’s and loved the music of the decade before. But, with everything and in every time period the mob seems to have their hand in things and two friends form a business alliance supposedly selling magazine subscriptions and then become more involved in the music business. How will this affect Joseph and Leo still remains to be seen? How will Janet, his wife feel when he learns he took her poems and turned them into songs? As Teddy becomes more popular and their business booms they move to Manhattan.  Added in we learn about Rosa Parks, John Kennedy and the Holocaust, which Joseph’s parents lived through, and will never forget.


But, things heat up and do not always go the way you want and successes become too paramount and then the downslide begins. The mob gets into the business and forms Alexis Records. Just as Teddy’s career takes off and he becomes a household word, teens all over are listening to him and he becomes number one on the charts, fate once again sets in, his plane goes down and his life and career ended. More than upset, Joseph, now Joe Rabin, Leo has to find a new singer, deal with the tragedy and create a newer sound with another singer. Four young men who are friends decide to form a group called the Du-Kanes. Practicing in one of the group’s apartments upsets someone and the police ask them to stop practicing so late. But, one officer goes to bat for them, finds them a place to practice and eventually things turn around as Joseph and Leo now have a new group that soars and some that still have not made it. From Elvis Presley, to Buddy Holly, to Pat Boone, Fats Domino and many others the author reminds the reader of the greats from that time period.


But, things will change as the times do and the mob sinks its teeth into the business trying to control the singers, their monetary gains, but the record industry too. Hoping to make the DJ’s play their songs, their music and their artists would dramatically change the complexion of the industry. But, when the author writes how these four young men celebrated with an egg cream and malteds it really made me smile and reminded me of on once a month treat of a vanilla malted or chocolate egg cream made just right in the candy store that was directly under our apartment building on Southern Boulevard in the Bronx.


Things began to change in the lives of Joseph and Janet as their marriage began to backslide and they drifted apart. He buried himself in his work and she went to England to see the world and the castles. Then the British invasion came along with the Vietnam War, Kennedy’s assassination, the downslide of his business. Losing Janet, several contracts and the Beatles made things difficult not only between Joseph and Leo but others as well. Joseph needed a group that would pull in money, sell records and recoup his loses. Then once again tragedy strikes in an unexpected way when learns of the death of a dear friend and the reason behind it. So many things happened during this time period. Castro comes into power, McCarthy, Kennedy, the Russians and Sputnik and so much more. This was a time period filled with so many changes in the world not only in politic, space but in music too. I remember watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show and seeing some of the greatest performers in person on his show when my dad’s friend got us tickets on a Sunday night. This book is filled with so much history, nostalgia and reminders that things really don’t change only the people do. Music is so different today and the groups varied and the sounds definitely not Motown.


The characters might be fiction but some of the events are real. From Chubby Checker and the twist, to Bobby Rydell, Bobby Darin and Fabian the music of this time period is timeless and this book brings it all back. But, when the author talks about the Bronx, the many different places he lived and Morris Park and Pelham Parkway, I smile. Because, it is all still here and still beautiful just the people are different.


As careers ended and his company was bought out, his life took a different turn and what happens in the world will change not only the complexion of the music industry, government, life for many and Joseph too. How does he revive his business and what brilliant idea does he have? You need to take this outstanding trip back in time when the Du-Kanes reigned, when wearing bobby sox was a definite fashion statement, when Dion and the Belmonts were hot, and the music of the 50’s soared and the emergence of Rock ‘n Roll took over the and performers like Elvis, Dion, Hank Williams, and Jerry Lee Lewis were at the top of the charts. From World War II, to Korea, Vietnam, racial tensions and the first man on  the moon, author Donald Riggio brings it all back with a flair that is unique, filled with facts, even a murder, some deceit, treachery and much more before it all comes together in a surprise ending that will bring tears to your eyes and the audience on its feet.


There is nothing like listening to the old 45’s and I still have some of mine and wish I could convert them to a CD to listen to the songs that meant something, had meanings and made everyone get up dance my favorite Lindy Hop with my favorite partner my late sister, Marcia. This is one outstanding novel that everyone should read whether you lived through the era or not the music then will always be the music now to me.


So, Donald, thanks for the memories, the great story, Joseph Rabinowitz, Leo Klein, the Du-Kanes, Chanty and of course Teddy.


This book gets FIVE SEVEN INCH VINYL’s

Fran Lewis: Reviewer




Murder Among Us reviewed by Fran Lewis

Murder Among Us

Author Marilyn Levinson

Reviewed by Fran Lewis



Twin Lakes will never be the same since Lydia Krause moved in. Thinking she would start socializing at a simple Bingo night would change everything not only for her but those living in this Twin Lakes Retirement Community. Coming smack dab in her face is Marshal Weill/Warren Manes a total embezzler, crook, and thief who stole hard earned money from not only her sister but many others too. So, in would the homeowners association hire this man as their financial planner? Why, would anyone defend him when she, Lydia Krause was enlightening them, of course quite publically, to the chagrin of many present and of course his dear wife Claire.

Claire seems like a devoted wife and comes to her husband’s defense when he would rather her not get involved. Trying in his own sleek way to divert attention from himself and claim mistaken identity, Claire in her naivety, spills the beans letting everyone know Lydia definitely has the right person and for the right reasons. But, dear Claire loves her cheating, embezzler husband and thinks he should be forgiven and his past put just there in the past. So, Lydia, although some think she is right, learns that others feel her public outburst in poor taste exists the bingo hall only to run into Barbara Taylor in the ladies room. Poor Barbara is ill and not sure from what so Lydia, being kind and considerate accompanies her home, leaves her car at the hall and spends the night taking care of who would soon be a close and dear friend. But, things have just started to heat up for poor Lydia as she returns home to find her brand new Lexus seriously damaged and reports it to the police. Well, if this isn’t bad enough the young officer that takes her personal statement enlightens her as to where her car has been and who the victim of the attack was. You see, someone took her car key and drove her car right into dear Claire ending her life. Now, the fun and mayhem will begin as Lydia becomes suspect number one, Peg her neighbor and many others wish she would never have moved there and she decides to do some digging herself to solve the murder.


Watch out Patterson you are not the only one with your very own Detective or Amateur Murder Club. Meet Lydia, Barbara and Caroline who ban together, put together the evidence, decide on what information needs to be uncovered and hopefully solve the case before the police even realize what they are doing. But, Lydia is relentless and will not give up until she gets answers. Following the style of Jessica Fletcher or even Hetty Wainthropp played by Patricia Routledge, Lydia digs too deep into Claire’s murder, her past, her husband’s philandering and endangers her own life. One swim in the indoor pool was supposed to discourage her but did not.

Added into the mix are the many women having affairs in this novel. Viv McQuire and the victim’s husband did the horizontal mambo and Lydia has the pictures to prove it. Meredith her daughter is acting strange and she is sure that she is cheating her on husband too.


Joining forces with Lieutenant Molina and her friends Lydia hopes to clear her own name and find out who wanted poor innocent Claire dead. Did Marshall stand to inherit tons of money? Did she leave it to her children from her first marriage? Who would profit from her death?  Would one of his lovers, Marshall or someone else?


Marshall is what we call a real goniff in more ways than one. Embezzling is just one of his forays and womanizer more aptly describes the other. He is so smooth and slick he even justifies his actions and some of the residents actually buy his act. So, why is it that Lydia Krause is the only one that stands up to this weasel with no holds barred? Now, you would think that all of these people who worked hard for many years, saved up to move into this high-end community would think twice, do some research and check out someone before giving them access to their funds and finances.


If all this is not bad enough poor Lydia is beginning to think that her life revolves around being a glorified babysitter for her grandchildren and nosing around to find out who killed Claire. But, if you think nothing else can happen to make matters worse you are wrong. Lydia decides to take a part time job and relieve her stress by working and getting out much to the chagrin of her daughter.


Just as Lydia is about to get into a normal routine Meredith asks her to sit for her two daughters not thinking she might see her car parked in front of number 78. Why is she there and who owns that unit? Well! Definitely not a female that’s for sure. The plot is about to thicken because the killer is far from done.


As Lydia begins continues her own brand of investigation she meets Doris Fein who divulges over tea and carrot cake some interesting information about Claire and her relationship with Marshall. Not mincing her words she confronts Marshall during a phone call and the truth behind her sister’s suicide is revealed and Lydia faces some harsh realities surrounding her death. Now, I bet you are wondering what she learned and what Marshall told her about his relationship with Allison, well I am certainly not going to divulge that after all I would be considered a Yenta and you would not have the fun of finding out for yourself.  No spoilers in this review.


Lydia and Detective Molina seems to get along and he begins to realize that she is someone special. But, things heat up at a homeowners board meeting, some think Marshall should leave Twin Lakes, others not but when Doris Fein confronts Marshall about her financial woes due to his poor advice, just how does she wind up victim number two of our clever killer?


Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to get together and enjoy each other’s company except in Twin Lakes. As Lydia joins Meredith and her family that day one man’s arrival would change the complexion of the entire afternoon, brings suspicion upon him for Claire’s use of herbal capsules and cinch in Lydia’s mind the dangers our supplements, the naivety of most people and the lengths many women will go to in order to look younger. As Lydia learns the truth behind Merry’s friendship with this man, the pieces might fall into place. Is someone trying to frame Marshall and making him look guilty and disturbed by Lydia’s interference in the investigation.


How this all plays out you won’t believe. Why is Merry so unhappy in her marriage and what is Lydia going to do to repair that? What happens when she finds out her other daughter is about to get married and move to England? Just how much more can she take and will she decide to leave this retirement community before someone else is killed or will she remain even though some would rather see her go? Will she pursue a relationship with Detective Molina or just focus on getting her own life on track and her family’s too?


There are many issues that come to light in this murder/mystery. One that is front and center is the importance of not taking supplements or any drugs without doing the research, making sure they are FDA approved, checking with your doctor first and seeing how these capsules or supplements interact with your other medications and of course the cost. Betrayals are widespread. The green eyed jealous monster is at the center of much of this novel, as Marshall Weill seems to have too many women mesmerized but why?


But, despite Molina’s warnings our Lydia seems bent on finding out who killed Claire, what really happened to Doris when she overhears a conversation between Marshall and a member of the board that not only infuriates her but lets her know that he’s still up to his own tricks and much more even at the expense of those living in the retirement community. But, the killer is wise and one more murder, yes you heard me one more: you guessed it Marshall overstayed his welcome and had to be eliminated. Poor Viv would be heartbroken and the entire community on the alert as someone is out to kill anyone that interferes with his/her plans. Just why did Doris die? Was it murder or the capsules she was taking to look younger? Who killed Claire, Marshall and one photographer that was always nosing around? Barbara, Caroline and the women’s club each speculating and coming up with their own conclusions. One marriage that needs more than just a band-aid to repair the open wounds. One woman named Lydia who just wanted to start over but instead started up a chain of events that would rock the inner core of one retirement community, change many lives and hopefully improve her own. An ending that will surprise the reader and a killer that well you never can tell who your friends are can you? Revenge is sweet only if you don’t get caught. Characters that you will either love or hate. A man who never thought his deeds would catch up with him and one woman who just wanted to make things right for everyone. Author Marilyn Levinson has a winner here and let’s hope she brings Lydia, Barbara, Caroline and one hunk detective named Sol Molina back again to solve another mystery in Twin Lakes.



Fran Lewis: Reviewer