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Scavenger Hunt: A novel Hardcover – January 7, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.
--Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (January 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375421734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375421730
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,149,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in South Florida, a tropical backwater rife with mosquitoes, flying cockroaches and the sweet stink of life. My youth was spent stealing science-fiction paperbacks from the local mini-mart and cutting tunnels through the palmetto thickets behind my house with a machete. Later, I regularly burned down those palmettos for the pleasure of seeing the fire trucks arrive, sirens blaring.

After earning degrees in Philosophy, Film-Making and Creative Writing, I thought that I would be happy as a college professor, writing dense, literary novels which I would assign to my students. I found, however, that being a professor was mostly a matter of going to meetings, and that I hated reading, let alone writing dense, literary novels. Instead, I went back to my first love, poker.

The next five years I gambled full-time, living in a high-crime area populated by starving artists, alcoholics, and drug dealers, likeable sleazballs who would later populate my novels. After a time, I got restless and used some of my winnings to start a punk rock magazine called The Rocket, where I interviewed the Clash, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, etc. The success of The Rocket got me a job as a feature writer for a daily newspaper in Southern California, where I took the adventure-and-new-money beat.

Over the next seven years I flew jets with the Blue Angels, drove Ferraris and went for desert survival training with gun nuts. More importantly, the newspaper taught me to train my eye and ear, to observe, to research, and how to use direct, concise language to create a character, and set a scene. The newspaper was a great gig but I wanted to write novels. I quit my day job.

My first novel, THE HORSE LATITUDES, (1991) was called the fiction debut of the season by Time magazine. It was, however, only May. Since then I have written eleven more novels, the most recent of which is THE GIRL WHO CRIED WOLF, an ebook-only. My work has been described by the Washington Post as "Quentin Tarantino territory, with drugged-out and sometimes violent people in search of sensory overload, but what makes it all not just bearable, but often compelling, is Ferrigno's scorching wit and his relentless moral sense."

Everything has turned out better than I expected.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It's just the end of January 2003 as I sit here with snow on the ground and Robin Mink on the CD player, so you have to understand that it's way too early to be making statements like the one I'm going to make. I can't help it, though. I'm going to go ahead and predict that, come December, Robert Ferrigno's novel SCAVENGER HUNT is going to be on my Top Ten Best of 2003 list.
I know, I know --- it's tough to make a prediction like that so early in the year. But SCAVENGER HUNT is the book that Ferrigno's legion of followers has been waiting for. It is not merely a great Ferrigno book or even a great mystery. It is a great novel, period. It has all of the elements: tight plotting, memorable prose and characters that leap off of the page and into your world. It's a book that you swim in and maybe drown in, as opposed to wade through. Readable? Hah! Try to stop!
SCAVENGER HUNT brings intrepid SLAP reporter Jimmy Gage back for another go-round. SCAVENGER HUNT is not a sequel to FLINCH, where we first met Gage; no, SCAVENGER HUNT stands quite well on its own. Ferrigno fleshes Gage out and goes deeper into his character, making him more three-dimensional and ultimately more likable. This time around, Gage is on a Hollywood party scavenger hunt when he encounters Garrett Walsh, a former movie director flavor-of-the-month whose career abruptly came to an end when he was arrested for the rape and murder of an underage girl. Walsh pled guilty and, under the terms of a plea bargain, spent seven years in prison. Newly released, Walsh feels that Gage is just the ticket to help him clear his name. He plans to refurbish his reputation through Fall Guy, a movie script he is working on and that he swears will tell the story of how he was set up.
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By nobizinfla on February 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Robert Ferrigno's "Scavenger Hunt" is a subtle, darkly mesmerizing Hollywood tale of murder, ambition, frame-ups, set-ups, double-crosses and clever sleuthing.
After serving seven years, Oscar winning producer Garrett Walsh is determined to prove his innocence. His vehicle is what he terms, the "most dangerous screenplay in Hollywood." Walsh wants SLAP magazine's cynical, skeptical, irreverent, high profile reporter Jimmy Gage to publicize the screenplay, before someone attempts to silence him permanently.
Jimmy fails to buy in. But, when Walsh is found floating in his koi pond and the screenplay missing, Jimmy doubts it was the accidental death the police claim.
No one shares Jimmy's thesis except his nefarious pal Rollo. Together they work their way thru a colorful cast of quirky Hollywood types, and around the cops who consider the case closed.
The plot is superb: sophisticated, solid, circuitous and overflowing with scintillating dialogue.
Mr. Ferrigno withholds enough info to keep surprises coming and the pages turning. The pace never slackens, and the accelerating danger of the killer keeps the tenseness at a high pitch.
A delightful read. Hooray for Hollywood!
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Format: Hardcover
A very, very good mystery/thriller. The Hollywood types are dead-on (I was a TV writer for ten years). The plot zips along with enough twists to keep the reader turning the page. Only one thing keeps this book for being a great mystery worthy of five stars. Ferrigno kills one too many characters, one that need not and should not have died. No pun intended, but it was overkill. Otherwise, Ferrigno writes like Elmore Leonard meets Carl Haissen, and that's good!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At his best ("The Horse Latitudes," "Heartbreaker"), Robert Ferrigno writes stylish, smart thrillers that evoke film noir as imagined by Quentin Tarantino. When Ferrigno's not at his best, his novels are uneven and are something like the literary equivalent of stale Cracker Jacks -- still satisfying and the surprise inside may delight you, but you know you've had better.
"Scavenger Hunt" brings back reporter Jimmy Gage (last seen in "Flinch"), who writes articles for the Hollywood magazine "SLAP." Gage is a street smart tough guy whose moral compass is stronger than his legal compass. As long as he thinks he's doing the right thing, he's more than willing to bend the rules. Gage meets former movie director Garrett Walsh, who made a brilliant movie a long time ago, then pled guilty to murdering a high school tart the same day that he met and slept with her. After serving a 7 year sentence, Walsh is determined to write "the most dangerous screenplay," which will explain how he was set up. He wants Gage to write an article about this. Gage thinks Walsh is just a loser who pissed away his talent years ago. But then Walsh ends up face-down in the koi pond of his former house (he was renting a small cabin on the property from the owners), half-eaten by the ravenous fish. Gage gets interested in figuring things out, especially when the coroner pronounces it an accidental death.
The supporting characters are drawn nicely, from the tough-as-nails female detective that everyone is afraid of, the retired cop who busted Walsh seven years ago, Gage's assorted buddies who operate just on this side of the law.
So why am I less impressed with this than "The Horse Latitudes," which remains in my view Ferrigno's best?
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