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I am sure that this has happened to everyone at one time or
another. You meet somebody that, on paper, should be perfect. And
they're not. At least for you. One little gear doesn't click and it
throws the whole thing off. You keep checking back with them to see
if maybe you, or they, were having a bad day when you met, or you
went out, or whatever, to make sure that your judgment is running
on all eight cylinders (a rare circumstance, alas, with the males
of the species. But don't tell anybody). And it just doesn't
happen. It happens in the world of the arts, too. You encounter
something you think you should like, but you don't. For me, it's
"Seinfeld" on television, and Olu Dura in music. Critically
acclaimed, a rabid following, and I don't get it.

So now we come to my apparent conundrum with Robert Ferrigno. He's
not my favorite author. He has great plots, interesting characters,
and writes well enough. But for some reason we just can't close the
deal. Yet...I always read whatever happens to be his new book. And
I never, ever feel like I've wasted my time. I'm always just a
little disappointed.

FLINCH almost, almost, makes the sale with me. The underlying theme
of this bad boy is sibling rivalry. And while Ferrigno doesn't seem
to have any qualms about looking at it --- and it's a long,
unblinking look --- we never really get a below the roots analysis
of it. Sure, their insufferable father had them competing from
early childhood in every possible way, but we never seem to get the
whole picture of how the two brothers turned out to be so
different. And maybe there is no answer, and that's Ferrigno's

FLINCH opens with Jimmy Gage, a writer-reporter for the
hipper-than-you'll-ever-be tabloid Slap, was contacted by
someone calling himself The Eggman. The Eggman has claimed
responsibility for six apparently unrelated murders in the Los
Angeles area. The police ultimately brand the whole matter a hoax
--- and Gage as a publicity hound. When he thinks that The Eggman
is after him, Gage feels the need to get out of Dodge, and does so
quickly. When he returns, his life has changed forever: he finds
that his brother has married his girlfriend, that he doesn't have a
job, and that he doesn't have a place to live. Some of these things
are resolvable. Some of them, like his new sister-in-law, are not.
That doesn't prevent Gage from trying, though. Gage also remains
obsessed with The Eggman --- an obsession that becomes all the more
compelling when he discovers that his brother may be the very man
responsible for The Eggman's actions, and Gage's ultimate

FLINCH includes the introduction of quirky characters, which are
the hallmark of every Ferrigno novel, as well as the herky-jerky
plot sequences that ultimately and unfortunately make his books
all-too-often strain at the boundaries of suspension of disbelief.
It is both Ferrigno's blessing and curse, however, that the sum of
these parts is so often greater than the whole. And it is the taste
of these parts that ultimately makes reading Ferrigno worthwhile.
It will also be the reason why I'll happily continue to read
Ferrigno's future novels; that and the hope that, eventually,
everything will come together one day.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

by Robert Ferrigno

  • Publication Date: January 7, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 1400030242
  • ISBN-13: 9781400030248