cover image SCAVENGER HUNT


Robert Ferrigno, . . Pantheon, $24.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-375-42173-0

Ferrigno (Horse Latitudes) delivers another devastating—and entertaining—critique of celebrity culture in his darkly comic suspense story set among the players and would-be players of contemporary Hollywood. Jimmy Gage, a reporter for the ferociously dishy SLAP magazine (and the protagonist of Ferrigno's previous novel Flinch), stumbles on an explosive story while interviewing Garrett Walsh, an Oscar-winning Hollywood director who just finished serving seven years in prison for the murder of teenage wanna-be actress Heather Grimm. Walsh swears he's not guilty and tells Gage he's written a movie about what really happened, The Most Dangerous Screenplay in Hollywood. Gage is skeptical, but when Walsh turns up dead (and the screenplay missing), he goes to work to find out the truth. Ferrigno explores the sordid underworlds of Tinseltown and the LAPD through a number of sharply etched characters, such as twin aspiring actresses Tamra and Tonya Monelli, who keep losing parts to their blonde colleagues; Gage's insecure slacker sidekick Rollo ("If you were a woman, would you find me sexually attractive?") and the memorably tough policewoman Helen Katz. Gage is himself a compelling character whose cynicism is balanced by a real moral center. Walsh's death proves to be a mystery of real complexity, involving all the baser motives—greed, lust, ambition—as well as a noble one: love. Unfortunately, the resolution becomes obvious to the reader long before Gage figures it out, but this insightful—and often very funny—novel is still a pleasure to read. (Jan. 7)

Forecast:Booksellers might recommend Ferrigno to fans of Michael Connelly and Elmore Leonard, with happy results.