Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Prostitute's Ball by Stephen J. Cannell

Detective Shane Scully responds to a call in the Hollywood hills at a once-immaculate mansion, the scene of an infamous murder twenty-five years prior. He discovers the remnants of a lavish pool party. The revelers have fled, leaving three dead bodies in their wake, all shot with the same gun. One is an acclaimed film producer. The other two, a pair of gorgeous women.

With his new partner, Sumner “Hitch” Hitchens, Scully begins to investigate what looks to be an open-and-shut case: The women were hired prostitutes, and there’s security video of an angry husband firing on all three. A simple case of brutal revenge. But nothing is ever as simple as it seems: There’s a single spent bullet casing that doesn’t match the rest.

From that single bullet emerges a story of love, murder, suicide, and one of the biggest financial frauds in L.A. history. Someone has gone to great lengths to cover up a decades-old crime, and as Scully and Hitch get closer to the answer, they find themselves in a killer’s crosshairs.

In the year that we have been writing this blog, I have discovered that I'm much better at writing a "pan" review than I am at giving praise.  Perhaps there's some deep, underlying glitch in my psyche that calls for closer inspection during therapy, or maybe it's just my naturally snarky nature.  Whatever the reason, I'm feeling very inept at writing this review because I loved the book and all my thoughts are so cliche, so let's just go with that.

Don't judge this book by it's cover.  The ominous picture doesn't begin to predict the twists and turns of this plot.  What appears to be an open and shut case actually opens up a whole other can of worms - a 25-year-old crime that has been swept under the rug.

Ok, that's not doing it either, so here it is, straight out:  This book is an intricately-plotted thriller that goes beyond the standard police procedural.  Cannell weaves the two crimes, the personal lives of the main characters, and the inside details of building a legal case, into one engrossing story.  The gore level is very low.  The action is well paced - never a dull moment - but with plenty of detail about the characters and their lives to make you want to solve more cases with Scully and Hitchins.

Unfortunately, due to the untimely death of Mr. Cannell several weeks ago, that won't be possible.  If you aren't familiar with Mr. Cannell, he is also the creater of dozens of television shows, including one of my all-time favorites, Rockford Files. (Not to mention he was also a Sigma Chi, like our son.)  I am heartbroken that yet another of the best and brightest of authors is gone.   As with Robert Parker's Spenser series, I almost feel fortunate that I discovered this series so late, because I still have past installments to savor. 


  1. At first I was judging this book by it's cover. Now I'm interested because of your "word" on this book and the author. The plot sounds good too. On my list.

  2. Just put my name on the list at the library - #21. I can wait. Sure I can.