cover image Dead Silent

Dead Silent

Robert Ferrigno. Putnam Publishing Group, $24.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14148-5

Familiarity with Ferrigno's three previous novels (Dead Man's Dance, etc.) won't breed contempt for his fourth, which is as fast and nasty as a cobra strike. It does raise the question, however, of why this talented author doesn't vary his formula. Again, Ferrigno presents an ominous California noir-scape teeming with quirky sadistic villains, dangerous slinky babes and a hip but good-hearted hero caught in their violent wake. Former rock star Nick Carbonne becomes the cops' chief suspect in the shooting death of his wife and his old band buddy, Perry. Ferrigno lavishes his liveliest prose, however, on Alison, Perry's sexy Texas girlfriend, who keeps Nick in a state of erotic expectation as the two of them attempt to solve the murders. Alison and Perry's specialty was making and selling audiotapes of dirty phone calls that Alison placed to strangers--a relatively harmless and quite lucrative pursuit, until the couple inadvertently taped the murder of one of their regular ""clients."" As they track the killer, Nick and Alison win the shaky support of a local cop. They also acquire more insidious help: the protection of the ""Blue Angel,"" an ice-blooded killer who's after the same quarry, if for different reasons. Ferrigno spices this fruity slice of West Coast life with acerbic takes on aging rockers and motorcycle gangsters, post-punk bar and party people, lowlife agents, videophiles and perverts. He tells a nimble mystery, nostalgically propelled by sex, drugs, rock-and-roll--and more than one echo of his earlier work. Film rights sold to Twentieth Century Fox. (Aug.)