DEAD MAN'S DANCE by Robert Ferrigno


Email this review


Though Ferrigno struggles valiantly to inject gallons of angst and attitude into his latest, the result is a wandering, joyless attempt to reinvent the gruff roman policier. Quinn (The Cheshire Moon, 1992; Horse Latitudes, 1990) is back, and he's an even bigger dunderhead than ever. He still has his job at SLAP magazine churning out copy under the bitchy gaze of publisher Antonin Napitano, a twittering hybrid of Rupert Murdoch, Cond‚ Nast, and Hugh Hefner. Tormented by lingering affection for his ex-wife and daughter, seriously noncommittal when it comes to his photojournalist girlfriend, Quinn is one of those existential samurai who could just as easily be a rogue cop or a p.i.; the only advantage seems to be that, since he has a real job, he can tool around in a jeep rather than riding the bus. When Quinn learns that his stepfather, a judge, has been murdered, he latches onto the LAPD's investigation with the tenacity of a pit bull and finds himself drawn into a demimonde peopled with brooding shadow boys and psychotic hairdressers, two of whom -- Hugo and Rick -- are on a mild homicidal rampage. More killings follow, and arrows begin pointing at Joe Steps, a crippled friend Quinn had given up for dead but who was really serving a bogus 30-year sentence in the pokey. Quinn can swallow that cab-driver Hugo is acting as Joe's de facto chauffeur/confidant, but he goes ballistic when he gleans that Rick's been stalking Quinn's family. Meanwhile, entering into the action somehow is celebrity defense attorney Ellis Fontayne, a man who merits butch disdain because he wears loafers. Ferrigno doesn't so much pursue these disparate plotlines as opt for the Quentin Tarantino storytelling strategy of endless verbal dueling. The tough-guy banter is fun but leaves what little honest evil there is seeming tacked on. Dead men, of course, can't dance. But the choreography seems to he a problem, too.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1995
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Putnam