Hill premier crime novelist's latest effort sizzles

by Len Lear
Posted 1/27/22

 Chestnut Hill resident Tony DePaul's crime novels is full of references to Northwest Philadelphia locations. They definitely make the events seem more relatable.

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Hill premier crime novelist's latest effort sizzles


One of the things I like about Chestnut Hill Tony DePaul's crime novels is all of the references to Northwest Philadelphia locations. They definitely make the events seem more relatable.

For example, in his just-released (Nov. 15, 2021) collection of short stories, “Philadelphians: a Literary Mural,” some of the local references are: “The 23 bus rumbling up the cobblestones on Germantown Avenue,” “Chelten Avenue and Vernon Park,” “Chestnut Hill Hospital,” “his home in West Mount Airy on Allens Lane down the path along Cresheim Creek,” and “a call in Chestnut Hill on Evergreen Avenue.

Some of the stories are really quite compelling. My favorite is “You Never Know,” about Kenny Hale and his wife Beatrice, who live in a twin brick home on Mt. Pleasant Avenue in Mt. Airy.  Kenny has retired after 34 years at Aramark as a warehouseman, which “has diluted his appetite for bosses and rules.” But he needs some extra money, so he takes a job as a part-time Uber driver.

He thinks it will be enjoyable to meet new people and get good tips while driving around in relatively safe areas like Chestnut Hill, but one beautiful woman gets in the car and wants to go to a known drug area in North Philly, where the plot definitely thickens. What transpires is quite suspenseful and had me rushing to get to the ending. I don't want to give too much away, but I'll just say that the FBI gets involved.

The book consists of 14 fictional stories based on different aspects of Philadelphia life. His characters - black, white, young or old - are challenged to fight and survive against crime, racism, cancer and violence, among other things.

The reader will experience a desperate man's attempt to win a cheesesteak contest. Another story deals with two women taking on the State of Pennsylvania's handling of cuts in the school budget that endanger children. Politics, religion, economic forces and the COVID pandemic are backdrops to the tales in “Philadelphians.”

Only one of the 14 stories, “Attar of Roses,” is based on real people. “That story is based on a true story of a miraculous recovery of my friend, who is now gone,” said DePaul.

DePaul said that a previous book of his short stories, “RoRo Morse, Philly’s Most Fearsome Detective,” with plots that are also based in Northwest Philadelphia, is being reviewed by a TV producer for a possible series.

Melanie Galioto, of Chestnut Hill, whose late husband Frank resolved constituents' problems while managing the office of former City Councilman Frank Rizzo, Jr., is the marketing consultant for “Philadelphians.” According to DePaul, “Her goal and mine is to make this book a bestseller.”

DePaul, who was born in Chestnut Hill Hospital more than seven decades ago, still lives in Chestnut Hill today. Now retired from a career as a salesman, Tony won awards and set records whenever a company gave him something to sell, despite the fact that he never took a business course in his life.

DePaul, who was on the CHCA board in the late 1990s, is short in stature but big in personality. He went to work for the Burroughs Corporation selling business machines in 1968 and before too long became the number five salesman out of 250. “Eighty percent of selling is people skills,” he said. After three years with Burroughs, DePaul was recruited by Automatic Data Processing, where he was the number one salesman every year.

Despite his success in sales, DePaul’s first love was always writing, and he longed to get away from the protective scaffolding of corporate life.

“I always squeezed in writing whenever I could. I could write a book just about growing up on Gorgas Lane for 15 years,” he said.

DePaul graduated from Cardinal Dougherty High School, where he won a National Merit Scholarship to La Salle College. He later became a teaching assistant at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He taught two classes there while earning a master's degree in English Literature. In 1967 he came home to Philadelphia because his then-wife, Angela, was homesick. She was from Germantown, one of six children in her family.

For more information, visit newplainspress.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com