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Paperback Details
  • 10/2021
  • 9781737836704 173783670X
  • 362 pages
  • $14.99
Dean C. Ferraro
Murder in Santa Barbara
One of the top trial attorneys in the state, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Rizzetti prosecutes crime in the scenic, coastal town of Santa Barbara. He's successfully tried several murder cases, all without a scratch. Suddenly, in preparing a simple misdemeanor case for trial, everything changes. At the eleventh hour, the defendant's trial date gets postponed by a murder, seemingly unrelated to the case. Or is it? After Josh suspects there is a connection between his case and the murder, he digs further. But the deeper he goes, the more dangerous it gets. Greed, corruption, deceit and revenge lead to threats and murder knocking on his door. Caught in the crosshairs, the young prosecutor races to find the link to his case and uncover the mystery behind the murder. And if he can't quickly figure out their connection, the next murder will be his.
Plot/Idea: 6 out of 10
Originality: 6 out of 10
Prose: 6 out of 10
Character/Execution: 6 out of 10
Overall: 6.00 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Murder in Santa Barbara boasts an ambitious plot with multiple characters and subplots – a thriller that is almost overwhelmed by its escalating events. Much of the story’s conflict could use more set-up and comes across as somewhat implausible, and the ending—although intriguing—is tied together a touch too neatly.

Prose: Ferraro’s prose is generally engaging, though it is also weakened by a degree of forced and awkward humor. Many scenes are brightened by the author’s playful style, but a number of the tense events come across as overdone. 

Originality: Murder in Santa Barbara is a classically staged legal whodunit with an appealing narrative. Ferraro’s lighthearted banter between characters lends some distinction to the text, but it also overpowers the narrative in many instances.

Character Development/Execution: Ferraro incorporates a multitude of characters of varying degrees of importance and connection to the primary events. The main players would benefit from better-developed backstories.

Date Submitted: May 07, 2022

From attorney to published author - Dean Ferraro of Castle Rock writes legal thr

A local lawyer-turned-author rekindled his passion for writing and produced his first legal thriller when he found himself home more, with less to do, during the first year of the pandemic.

Starting in the summer of 2020, and continuing for almost a year, Dean C. Ferraro worked in earnest to write the book he’d conceived 12 years earlier — a tale he began back before he had children or his own law practice. 

“Now’s the best time,” the Castle Rock attorney told himself when business at Ferraro Law Firm began to slow down. “There’s no excuse not to get it finished.”

Published in November 2021, the 364-page “Murder in Santa Barbara” follows a California deputy district attorney whose simple misdemeanor case becomes entwined with what originally appears to be an unrelated murder. 

Ferraro, who has practiced law for over two decades, drew on his own experience as an assistant district attorney for several of the story’s events. 

“A couple of the far-fetched things in my book that you would think ‘You couldn’t make this stuff up’ — I didn’t have to,” Ferraro said. “It really happened.”

Inspired by the best-selling author responsible for “The Firm” and “A Time to Kill,” Ferraro mined his professional past for adventuresome anecdotes. Also like John Grisham, Ferraro went to the University of Mississippi Law School. 

In fact, Ferraro’s sister gave him Grisham’s third novel, “The Pelican Brief,” when she realized he’d be attending the writer’s alma mater.

“I’ve always had interest in legal thrillers, ever since I read his book,” said Ferraro, who discovered he had a way with words as an undergraduate student studying political science. 

Born and raised in Southern California, Ferraro set his debut novel in the coastal town of Santa Barbara. It’s where he lived when he began working on the story in the late 2000s. 

The majority of the book, however, was written more recently from his home in Douglas County. Wanting to make his scene descriptions as accurate as possible, Ferraro ended up doing more research on his old stomping grounds than on the legal aspects of the novel, which were “second nature” to him, he said.

Ferraro’s move to Colorado came in 2015. He relocated to the state looking for a “slower pace” that would grant him more opportunities to enjoy life and time with his growing children. He also opened his own law practice, which specializes in estate planning, at that time.

Now that he’s rediscovered the joy of writing, however, Ferraro said he designates at least a couple of hours a day to the activity. He doesn’t want to let storytelling fall by the wayside again. 

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” the 51-year-old said. “And now that I’ve kind of jumped into it, I don’t want it to inadvertently get put on the back burner again.”

Ferraro’s currently working on “Murder in Vail,” the sequel to his first book. He expects it will be out by the end of the year.

“Murder in Santa Barbara” can be ordered through Barnes & Noble, Amazon and local independent bookstores. Autographed copies are available through Ferraro’s website,

Paperback Details
  • 10/2021
  • 9781737836704 173783670X
  • 362 pages
  • $14.99