HEARTBREAKER by Robert Ferrigno


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A California playboy, a pair of homicidal hustlers, and a feisty but beautiful marine biologist all make trouble for an ex-cop who wants revenge on the southern-fried drug dealer who killed his partner. Departing from the four-book series featuring magazine journalist Quinn (Horse Latitudes,1990, etc.), Ferrigno comes up with Val Duran, a likable, wisecracking, Elmore Leonard’style action hero. White-trash Miami druglord Junior Mayfield suspects that Duran just might be an undercover cop, though the hired goons who torture and murder Val’s partner can—t get him to confirm it. Duran dispatches the goons, then flees to L.A., where he gets a job acting as a police-procedures consultant on some cheap Hollywood action films. He encourages Junior to try to find him by appearing as a guest on Jeopardy—Junior’s favorite TV game show—then using Junior’s name as the wrong response. Meanwhile, Charles “Kilo” Abbott III, a dissolute southern California playboy, turns to his advantage what might have been a brutal robbery by red-haired, sadistic femme fatale Jackie and her masochistic muscleman, Dekker, by hiring them to murder his stepmother Gwen, who stands in the way of Kilo inheriting his doddering father’s millions. Doing his laundry on a Saturday night, who should Val meet but Kyle Abbott, a gorgeous, sexually aggressive marine biologist (and stepsister to Kilo) who just might be the woman he’s been looking for all his life. Ferrigno tangles subplots as these numerous string-pullers run afoul of each other. Deliberately skewed dialogue and screwball plot twists tend to undermine the sense of menace that would make the requisite violence and derring-do believable. It matters little, in the end, that Duran’s schemes have only made it easier for others to involve him in theirs. Tightly written but uneven, with an uncomfortable mix of over-the-top comic plotting and tough-guy machismo in a surrealistic SoCal setting.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-40124-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1999


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