This impressive first novel by a nationally syndicated journalist is a curious and winning combination of noir violence, L.A. attitude, drug-inspired lunacy and sheer storytelling bravado. At the center of the web is vanished Lauren Kiel--psychologist, management consultant and amoral beauty par excellence, whose home has been the scene of a grisly ritual murder. Danny DeMedici, Lauren's ex-husband, is the prime suspect in the slaying, and when a former debutante, detective Jane Holt, wants to put the finger on him, it's up to Danny, an erstwhile drug dealer, to figure out what happened to Lauren and her dead boyfriend, Dr. Tohlson. He enlists the aid of Cubanito, a dealer, and also seeks out Michael Kiel, Lauren's brother, a Vietnam vet turned pothead. But Danny's efforts are thwarted by Tohlson's partner, the nefarious Dr. Arthur Reese, as well as Reese's goon-like twin nephews, the physiologically perfect (but incorrigibly stupid) Lloyd and Boyd, and his sadistic security chief McVey, for reasons involving millions of dollars, computer discs and the secret of eternal life. Ferrigno's taste for the whimsical, sexual and fantastic, combined with his keen eye for Californian absurdity, saves this highly commercial concoction from going flat, and though certain questions about motivation remain unresolved, the novel is a perfect escape into quirky, sunny, sexy postmodern suspense. Major ad/promo; BOMC alternate; author tour. (Mar.)
Inexplicably, rights to this fiction debut were the subject of a frenzied bidding war among U.S. publishers last winter. Retired drug dealer Danny Dimedici passes the days by swimming, spending what's left of his ill-gotten capital, and mooning over his divorce. When ex-wife Lauren disappears from her beach home and a dead scientist is found hanging naked from her ceiling, Danny is dragged into a silly extortion scheme over a pop-science miracle drug. A vigorously trendy theme and interesting cast of peripheral characters fail to redeem the novel's dangling subplots and unsatisfying conclusion. However, heavy media push from the publisher as well as notoriety derived from the controversial moral implications of Ferrigno's unrepentant drug-dealer hero should generate some demand. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/89. BOMC alternate.-- Mark Annichiarico, ``Library Journal''