Penzler Pick, August 2001:
His previous thriller, Heartbreaker
, was a smooth slam-dunk of a novel. Now Robert Ferrigno is back with his sixth book--and he's still making it look easy. Those who don't already know Ferrigno's work-- especially fans of Elmore Leonard, Daniel Woodrell, Robert Crais, and Carl Hiaasen looking to broaden their horizons--should check out this tale of sibling rivalry and serial murder in sunny, sinister Los Angeles.
Jimmy Gage, the hero, is a journalist, and a hard-working one. But when he's on the job, he doesn't cover school board meetings, mayoral press conferences, or even Lakers games. If a story doesn't have some angle that can sharpen his skewer, offering new ways to puncture the pompous, satirize the starstruck, or engineer an exposé, he'll move on to the next lurid opportunity. He's also a take-no-prisoners film reviewer, which is the same as being loathed and feared in a town where just about every dental hygienist has a script in turnaround. And in case these responsibilities are not keeping him busy enough, Jimmy writes a column slugged "Media Whore" for his employer, the wholly disreputable SLAP magazine.
Savvy readers probably won't be shocked to find beneath Jimmy Gage's jeering exterior a highly moral guy whose cynicism masks--as cynicism often does--an all-too-vulnerable romantic soul. Unfortunately, when a vicious serial killer calling himself "The Eggman" starts sending Jimmy boastful letters about his crimes, the police see it only as a tabloid tease set up by Jimmy himself.
Flinch is a terrific title for a story in which every character is an antagonist of at least one other. Why is Jimmy Gage sleeping with his brother's wife? And why is his brother making a strange set of Polaroids appear and disappear? Who is going to look away first? Whose self-control is out of control? You'll have to read it to discover the answer. --Otto Penzler
From Publishers Weekly
In this engaging, darkly comic thriller, tabloid journalist Jimmy Gage returns to Los Angeles from a self-imposed exile and finds his ex-girlfriend, Olivia, married to his brother, Jonathan, a polished and philanthropic plastic surgeon. The brothers' absurdly competitive relationship the title of Ferrigno's sixth novel (after The Horse Latitudes) refers to a childhood game in which each tried to make the other flinch is ratcheted up significantly when Jimmy finds Polaroid "splatter shots" of six bodies in Jonathan's possession. Are the people in the pictures the victims of the self-styled serial killer Eggman, who took responsibility for the crimes in a letter to Jimmy? Or are they simply random corpses, part of the "background noise" of contemporary L.A.? A huge cast of quirky, interesting characters, multiple story lines and an indelible setting contemporary Los Angeles with its "blank sensuality and lubricious greed" contribute to the densely patterned mosaic of this always entertaining and often riveting novel. Ferrigno is a great interpreter of L.A., a city of manufactured dreams and unbridled ambition, and an incisive critic of its popular culture. Scenes and characters bristle with energy, and the conflict between the brothers is real and compelling. Ferrigno may bite off more than he can chew at times the tangled plot sometimes obscures the drama, and the mesh linking all the elements could be more tightly woven. Still, the expansive canvas, spot-on characterizations, excellent prose and incisive dialogue will please those readers who like their mysteries more complex and ambitious than the average work of genre fiction. Agent, Mary Evans. 15-city author tour.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.