Robert Ferrigno continues to surprise. In 2001's darkly mesmeric Flinch, he not only delivered his usual trove of offbeat bad guys, but finally created a protagonist who was equally arresting: Jimmy Gage, a trouble-seeking reporter for the tabloidish SLAP magazine. The sequel, Scavenger Hunt, takes Ferrigno one evolutionary step further, its tale of ambition and guilt in Southern California driven by dense, circuitous plotting, rather than the familiar emotional tension between a flawed male lead and some treacherously captivating femme fatale.
"I want you to write an article about me, about what I'm working on. I even have a title for you: 'The Most Dangerous Screenplay in Hollywood,'" says Garrett Walsh, an egotistical, Oscar-winning film director who, after spending seven years in the slammer for killing teenage actress-aspirant Heather Grimm, now tells Gage he was set up, possibly by the husband of an unnamed "good wife" with whom he'd been having an affair. Walsh plans to expose this neat frame in a movie script, and wants Gage to publicize his efforts before anyone can stop him. The reporter is dubious--until Walsh is found dead in a koi pond and his "dangerous screenplay" goes missing. Intent on learning whether the director was murdered, Gage will first have to identify the "good wife," swap body blows with an aging action star, resolve questions surrounding a too-helpful retired cop with a doughnut jones, and determine if Heather Grimm was really as innocent as she appeared. Although there are several throwaway scenes in Scavenger Hunt (including one in which Gage and his cop girlfriend try to nab a "lover's lane" rapist), they don't detract seriously from this often edgy, sometimes humorous yarn, composed in a style that's pleasantly less restrained than several of Ferrigno's earlier thrillers. --J. Kingston Pierce
From Library Journal
Jimmy Gage is a reporter for Slap magazine, a tell-all entertainment rag in Los Angeles. He's young, curious, and pushy, with a nose for news that gets him close to the "in people" and even closer to real trouble. A party prank scavenger hunt, devised by his publisher, gets Jimmy face time with Garret Walsh, a has-been director fresh out of prison for murdering an ing nue starlet. Needing to "borrow" an Academy Award statue for the scavenger hunt, Jimmy goes to Walsh's ramshackle trailer and gets caught up in his attempt to break back into the biz with a script he calls "the most dangerous screenplay in Hollywood." Two weeks later, Walsh is floating dead in a nearby koi pond, and Jimmy questions the police report that lists the death as accidental. On the pretext of researching an article on Walsh's rise and fall, Jimmy tails the police and does quite a bit of investigating on his own. His publisher is indulgent, sensing a tantalizing lead article for his next issue until this "scavenger hunt" turns deadly and Jimmy ends up at the top of someone else's list. Ranging up and down the sometimes glitzy, sometimes grubby Southern California coast, this latest noir thriller by Ferrigno (Horse Latitudes; Dead Silent) is slender, fast-paced, and populated by colorful characters who run the gamut from high rollers to the dregs of Hollywood wannabes. Edgy and darkly humorous, it will fit nicely into collections alongside Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and Jonathan Kellerman.
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