Jimmy Gage is a reporter for Slap magazine in Los Angeles—“a troublemaker by trade and inclination, with fast hands and too much curiosity for his own good. Fight or flight, it made no difference anymore.”
This time around, it’s definitely fight.
While on an L. A. party-scene scavenger hunt, Jimmy meets Garrett Walsh, a former boy-wonder director who has just been released from prison after serving seven years for the drug-rage murder of a seemingly innocent teenage girl. Out of prison and out for justice, Walsh chooses Jimmy to help him clear his name by getting the right people to read his newest script, Fall Guy, the story of the setup that sent him away. Walsh dubs it “The Most Dangerous Screenplay in Hollywood,” and apparently he’s right: two weeks after they first meet, Jimmy finds him dead. But there is something that rings true in Walsh’s story and something that rings false in the police report of accidental death, so Jimmy sets out after the truth. But is this his scavenger hunt, or is he at the top of someone else’s “find-at-all-costs” list?
Fast-paced, darkly funny, unexpected, crowded with indelible characters—both high and low Hollywood, both pretty good and very bad—Scavenger Hunt is Robert Ferrigno at his bristling best.
Robert Ferrigno continues to surprise. In 2001’s darkly mesmeric Flinch, he not only delivered his usual trove of offbeat bad guys, but finally created a protagonist who was equally arresting: Jimmy Gage, a trouble-seeking reporter for the tabloidish SLAP magazine. The sequel, Scavenger Hunt, takes Ferrigno one evolutionary step further, its tale of ambition and guilt in Southern California driven by dense, circuitous plotting, rather than the familiar emotional tension between a flawed male lead and some treacherously captivating femme fatale.
“I want you to write an article about me, about what I’m working on. I even have a title for you: ‘The Most Dangerous Screenplay in Hollywood,’” says Garrett Walsh, an egotistical, Oscar-winning film director who, after spending seven years in the slammer for killing teenage actress-aspirant Heather Grimm, now tells Gage he was set up, possibly by the husband of an unnamed “good wife” with whom he’d been having an affair. Walsh plans to expose this neat frame in a movie script, and wants Gage to publicize his efforts before anyone can stop him. The reporter is dubious—until Walsh is found dead in a koi pond and his “dangerous screenplay” goes missing. Intent on learning whether the director was murdered, Gage will first have to identify the “good wife,” swap body blows with an aging action star, resolve questions surrounding a too-helpful retired cop with a doughnut jones, and determine if Heather Grimm was really as innocent as she appeared. Although there are several throwaway scenes in Scavenger Hunt (including one in which Gage and his cop girlfriend try to nab a “lover’s lane” rapist), they don’t detract seriously from this often edgy, sometimes humorous yarn, composed in a style that’s pleasantly less restrained than several of Ferrigno’s earlier thrillers. —J. Kingston Pierce