lt opens with a killing on a south Florida beach. Val Duran, an undercover cop, is forced to witness the murder of his partner, which has been arranged by a drug kingpin called Junior. In retaliation, Val kills two of Junior's men, but the score is far from settled. Val quits Florida fast and doesn't stop until he reaches Hollywood. He ends up doing stunt work in B movies, but his real life turns out to be much more hazardous: He's fallen hard for Kyle Abbott, a marine biologist with an attitude, a pedigree, and a take on nature ("survival is all about speed and cunning, camouflage and adaptability") that would have forewarned Val had she not completely disarmed his habitual protective paranoia. Which means that he doesn't see Junior coming until it's almost too late. And, even more dangerously, Val doesn't notice how fast he's sinking into the morass of Kyle's deadly, dysfunctional family: Her dissolute stepbrother and his dangerous girl friend are planning to forcibly wrest the purse strings to Daddy's fortune from the control of overbearing Stepmom. Val might be able to keep himself out of Junior's line of fire, but he doesn't see any way to help Kyle without dragging her directly into it. The cast of edgy eccentrics, a breakneck pace and caustic humor, a seamless combination of the macabre and the eccentric, the raucous and the romantic--all these elements combine to make Heartbreaker the fiercest, most audacious novel we have had from Robert Ferrigno in years.