The Pallbearers (Shane Scully Series #9)by Stephen J. Cannell, Scott Brick
Abandoned by his parents as an infant and shunted from one foster family to another, Shane was ultimately raised in an orphanage called Huntington House. The only positive thing in his young life was the attention of the home’s director, Walter “Pop” Dix. Pop, an avid surfer, would take a small group of kids for early morning surfing. He was big-hearted, patient, and the father none of them had ever had.
That was thirty years ago, and Scully long ago put that difficult chapter of his life behind him. He is now an accomplished detective, married to Alexa, the gorgeous lieutenant and acting commander of the LAPD detective division. But Shane is forced to revisit the memories of his childhood when he learns that Pop has been found dead, the victim of an apparently self-inflicted shotgun blast. He has left a note asking six specific people, all of whom attended Huntington House, to be his pallbearers, and Shane is one of the chosen. He and his fellow pallbearers are convinced Pop would never have killed himself. That leaves murder. But why would anyone kill Pop? And who?
Together, the pallbearers embark on a dangerous mission in pursuit of justice, and for retribution against the men responsible for Pop’s death. It takes them up against an unexpected adversary whose power and influence far exceed anything they could have imaginedviolent, dangerous men who are determined to keep a lid on the secret behind Pop’s death, no matter who gets in their way.
“THE PALLBEARERS grabbed me within its first few pages.... It takes a superior talent to do this, and Cannell, creator of some of television's best-loved series of the late 20th century, is up to the challenge.... THE PALLBEARERS is not to be missed.” Bookreporter.com
“Cover to cover, [On the Grind] never lets you up for air. Read it!” Michael Connelly, bestselling author of The Brass Verdict, on ON THE GRIND
“A hard-boiled cop and really scuzzy bad guys... Cannell is the gold in crime fiction.” Stephen Coonts, bestselling author of The Assassin, on ON THE GRIND
“Cannell's brand of thriller is served straight-up…and he knows how to cut to the chase.” The New York Times on THREE SHIRT DEAL
“The white-knuckle climax is one of the most exciting ever.” BookReporter.com on THREE SHIRT DEAL
“A very satisfying thriller written by a born entertainer.” New York Post on WHITE SISTER
“A strong piece of fiction that leads readers…through the harrowing underbelly of L.A. ” Daily News on WHITE SISTER
“A terrific read.” New York Sun on WHITE SISTER
“Cannell dishes out the action in forklift-sized servings.” Publishers Weekly on WHITE SISTER
“As the case spirals outward from local crime to international espionage dating back to the 1980s, the action rarely lets up. When it does, we're reintroduced to the back story that is one of the pleasures of reading the Scully series.” Los Angeles Times on COLD HIT
“The action rarely lets up.” The Chicago Tribune on COLD HIT
“A thriller, a procedural, and an indictment of the Patriot Act in the wrong hands. Scully, the plots, and the characters get better with each book.” The Sunday Oklahoman on COLD HIT
“If you are hungry for a great police procedural, look no further. Cannell knows what he's doing…this mystery works on every level.” Tulsa World on COLD HIT
“An intriguing, torn-from-today's-headlines premise on his fifth Shane Scully outing.” News Press (Fort Myers, FL) on COLD HIT
“Readers will enjoy watching [Scully] puzzle out the twists and turns of the plot and watch breathlessly as he undertakes a climactic high-speed chase.” Publishers Weekly on VERTICAL COFFIN
“Cannell certainly knows how to tell a story…You'll probably read the entire book with a smile on your face.” Cleveland Plain Dealer on VERTICAL COFFIN
“Cannell, creator of such TV shows as The A-Team, clearly knows the ins and outs of the entertainment industry, and the detective story, with its wry, subtle humor, doubles as Hollywood satire...the cops-and-robbers sequences hit the mark as well. Well-drawn characters and keen observations on the similarities between Hollywood and the mafia make this a winner.” Publishers Weekly on HOLLYWOOD TOUGH
“Scully has ample opportunity to prove how "Hollywood tough" he is...veteran writer/TV producer Cannell has concocted his special brand of reader candy.” Kirkus Reviews on HOLLYWOOD TOUGH
“A cop thriller with a futuristic, sci-fi twist.... Cannell has a genius for creating memorable characters and quirky, gripping plots.... This is a fun read.” Publishers Weekly on RUNAWAY HEART
“Stephen J. Cannell is an accomplished novelist.” New York Daily News on THE VIKING FUNERAL
“Stephen J. Cannell's The Viking Funeral is the sort of fast and furious read you might expect from one of television's most successful and inventive writer-producers.” Los Angeles Times on THE VIKING FUNERAL
“Solid plotting with nail-biting suspense and multiple surprises keep the reader guessing and sweating right up to the cinematic ending...Cannell has a knack for characterization and a bent for drama that will satisfy even the most jaded thrill lover.” Publishers Weekly on THE VIKING FUNERAL
“I've been a Stephen Cannell fan since his remarkable King Con, and he keeps getting better. The Tin Collectors is an LAPD story that possesses both heart and soul; a fresh and different look at the men and women who, even more than the NYPD, are the most media covered police force in the world. Stephen Cannell has the screenwriter's fine ear for dialogue and great sense of timing and pacing as well as the novelist's gift of substance and subtlety. Cannell likes to write, and it shows.” Nelson DeMille on THE TIN COLLECTORS
“Cannell turns out another winding, suspenseful thriller.” New York Daily News on THE TIN COLLECTORS
“Readers who enjoy cop novels by Robert Daley or William Caunitz will find Cannell right up their dark, dangerous alley.” Booklist on THE TIN COLLECTORS
“Cannell has created a reputation for top-rate suspense in four novels...his latest, The Tin Collectors, is his best...Cannell...knows how to tell a good story.” Wisconsin State Journal on THE TIN COLLECTORS
“Cannell conjures up images of McBain, Wambaugh, and Heller; only tougher, grittier, more underhanded, with plenty of street-smart savvy, and a frightening and wholly believable plot and characters…crackles with high energy and suspense…Cannell is in top form.” Charleston Post & Courier on THE TIN COLLECTORS
“Compelling, frightening, and...very moving. Don't miss it. Cannell is a first rate storyteller and The Tin Collectors never stops.” Janet Evanovich on THE TIN COLLECTORS
“Stephen Cannell has a chilling thought: What if the guys who police the police went bad? As in crooked? Then what? Then chaos, a message that comes through with decibels to spare in The Tin Collectors. This is classic Cannell: fast, full of action.” The Cincinnati Enquirer on THE TIN COLLECTORS
“In Shane Scully, Cannell brings the reader a dynamic new hero with promise of new adventures in the field of law and order.” Abilene-Reporter News on THE TIN COLLECTORS
“A sure winner…Cannell keeps the tension and pace at high levels.” St. Paul Star Tribune on THE TIN COLLECTORS
“Cannell is a great storyteller…a fresh and edgy story.” Buffalo News on THE TIN COLLECTORS
“Exciting…a fast-action tale that continues to build up momentum until the story line exceeds the speed of light.” The Midwest Book Review on THE TIN COLLECTORS
“Cannell's…best novel…begins with a bang and closes with one…a fast-paced well-told story.” The Osceola Magnifier on THE TIN COLLECTORS
Read an Excerpt
By Stephen J. Cannell
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Stephen J. Cannell
All rights reserved.
In 1976 America was just coming out of a protracted depression called the Vietnam War, but back then I was still deep in the middle of mine. I was twelve years old, and boy was I pissed.
It was early in May on that particular spring morning and I was huddled with some other children on Seal Beach around 9th Street. We were staring out through a predawn mist at the gray Pacific Ocean while consulting Walter Dix's old surf watch to time the AWP — which is what Walt called the Average Wave Period between the incoming swells. Walt called swells the steeps.
The beach we were on was about fifteen miles from the Huntington House Group Home, which was in a run-down neighborhood in Harbor City, a few minutes southeast of Carson. There were four of us gathered around Walt, all wearing beavertail wet suits with the sixties-style long flap that wrapped around under your crotch and left your legs uncovered. We were his lifers. The yo-yos. The kids who kept getting thrown back. All of us knew we would probably never get another chance at a foster family or adoption because we were too ugly or too flawed or we had lousy county packages, having already been placed too many times and then returned with bad write-ups.
But there were other reasons we didn't make it. We were an angry group. I held the Huntington House catch-and-release record, having just been sent back for the fifth time. My last foster family had called me incorrigible, unmanageable, and a liar. Probably all pretty accurate classifications.
The four of us had been specifically chosen for different reasons by Walter "Pop" Dix for that morning's sunrise surf patrol. Of course we had all desperately wanted to be picked, but it wasn't lost on any of us that we'd earned the selection because of a variety of recent setbacks. Pop understood that, even though we'd failed, it didn't mean we were failures. He also understood our anger, even if nobody else did. Pop was the executive director of Huntington House and was the closest thing to a father I'd ever known.
"Okay, cowabungas. Big rhinos out der. We gonna bus' 'em out big time," he said, glancing up from the watch to the incoming sets, speaking in that strange-sounding Hawaiian pidgin that he sometimes used when we were surfing. "We pack large dis morning. Catch us one big homaliah wave, stay out of de tumbler and it be all tits and gravy, bruddah."
He grinned, kneeling in the sand wearing his Katin trunks, displaying the surfer knots on the top of his feet and knees — little calcium deposits caused by a lifetime of paddling to catch up to what Pop called the wall of glass.
Pop was a tall, stringy, blue-eyed guy with long blond hair just beginning to streak with gray. He was about forty then, but he seemed much younger.
There was an Igloo cooler with juice and rolls in the sand before us, packed by Walter's wife, Elizabeth, for after surfing. We'd take our clean-up set at around seven thirty, come in and shower by the lifeguard station, eat, and change clothes in the van. Then we would pack up and Walt would drop us at school by eight thirty.
Pop had been born on the North Shore of Hawaii, which he said made him "kamaaina to da max." His parents had taught school there and he'd ended up in L.A. after the army. That was pretty much all I knew about him. I was too caught up with my own problems to worry about much else.
Because he'd been raised on the North Shore and taught to surf by the old-timers there, Pop was a throwback surfer, what the Hawaiians called a logger. His stick was a nine-foot-long board with no fins and a square tail — very old school. On the nose, he had painted his own crescent symbol, an inch-high breaking curl with the words "Tap the Source" in script underneath. Pop said the source was that place in the center of the ocean where Kahuna, the god of the waves, made "da big poundahs" — double overhead haymakers with sphincter factor.
Other than a couple of Hawaiians and one or two Aussies, Pop was one of the few surfers left who rode a cigar-box surfboard, a 1930s Catalina Hollow made by Tom Blake. Once it had water inside from too many rides, it got heavy in the nose and was a bitch to stay up on. The rest of us had new polyurethane shorties with a dolphin-fin skeg for speed. The boards and wet suits belonged to the Huntington House Group Home and were only used for special occasions like this.
We were sad children whose dark records were clinically defined in the terse cold files kept by Child Protective Services. But our nicknames were much crueler than our histories because we bestowed them on each other.
Nine-year-old Theresa Rodriguez knelt beside me, holding her short board. She had been set on fire by her mother shortly after birth but had miraculously survived. Terry was damaged goods, with an ugly, scarred face that looked like melted wax. Everyone knew Theresa was a lifer from the time County Welfare had first put her in Huntington House at the age of five. She was chosen for this morning's field trip because she had no friends and never got much of anything, except from Pop. We called her Scary Terry.
Also kneeling in the sand that morning was Leroy Corlet. Black, age eleven. Leroy's dad was in prison, his mother was dead of a heroin overdose. He had been sexually molested by the uncle he'd been sent to live with until a neighbor called Child Protective Services and they took him away. We called him Boy Toy behind his back, but never to his face because Leroy wasn't right in the head anymore. He was a violent nutcase who held grudges, and if you pissed him off, he'd sneak into your room in the middle of the night while you slept and beat you in the face with his shoe. He couldn't stand to be touched.
Pop had picked him that morning because he had just failed a special evaluation test at elementary school and was being held back for the second time in four years. He'd been sulking in his room for the last two days. No foster family wanted him either.
Next to Leroy was fifteen-year-old Khan Kashadarian. Half-Armenian, half-Arab or Lebanese. He'd been abandoned at age ten and was living in an alley in West Hollywood when he was picked up and shoved into the welfare system. Khan was fat, and a bully. We had given him two nicknames: Sand Nigger and Five Finger Khan, because he stole anything you didn't keep locked up. I didn't know why Pop picked him to be with us. As far as I was concerned, we'd have all been better off if he was dead. Even though he was three years older and a hundred pounds heavier, I'd had six or seven violent fights with Khan. I lost them all.
I was small back then, but I didn't take any shit. I was willing to step off with anybody at the slightest hint of insult. I got along with no one and had convinced myself that my five ex–foster families were a bunch of welfare crooks who were milking the system.
"No floatwalling," Pop said, his blue eyes twinkling. Floatwalling was paddling out beyond the surf but never going for a wave, not to be confused with backwalling, which was acceptable behavior because you were treading water, waiting for the big one.
Then the sun peeked above the horizon, the sign that it was time for us to paddle out.
"Let's go rhino chasing, bruddahs!" Pop said.
We picked up our boards and started down toward the early-morning break. I was fuming inside. I couldn't believe nobody wanted me, even though I insisted I didn't want or need anybody. Before we got to the water, Pop put out a hand and turned me toward him, as the others moved ahead. He lowered his voice and dropped the Hawaiian pidgin.
"Get your chin up, guy. There's a place for you, Shane," he said softly. "Sometimes we have to wait to find out where we belong. Be patient."
I nodded, but said nothing.
"Until you get picked again, you've always got a place with me." Then he flashed his big, warm grin and switched back to pidgin, trying to get me to smile. "I always want you bruddah. What's a matta you? Your face go all jam up. You no laugh no more, haole boy?"
I glanced down at the sand, shuffled my feet. But I didn't smile. I was too miserable.
"Come on then." Pop put a hand on my shoulder and walked with me to the water.
I was Shane Scully, a name picked for me by strangers. No mom, no dad. No chance. I had nobody, but nobody messed with me either. My nickname around the group home was Duncan because I was the ultimate yo-yo.
All any of us had was Pop Dix. He was the only one that cared, the only one who ever noticed what we were going through and tried to make it better.
And yet we were all so self-involved and angry that, to the best of my knowledge, none of us had ever bothered to say thank you.CHAPTER 2
"This hotel is gonna cost us a fortune," I said, looking at the brochure of the beautiful Waikiki Hilton. The photo showed a huge structure right on the beach in Honolulu. "You sure you got us the full off-season discount?"
I called this question inside to my wife, Alexa, while sitting out in our backyard in Venice, holding a beer and warming my spot on one of our painted metal porch chairs. Our adopted marmalade cat, Franco, was curled up nearby. He looked like he was asleep, but he was faking. I could tell because he was subtly working his ears with every sound. Cat radar. The colorful evening sky reflected an orange sunset in the flat mirrored surface of the Venice Grand Canal. It was peaceful. I was feeling mellow.
Alexa came out of the sliding-glass door wearing a skimpy string bikini. She looked unbelievably hot — beautiful figure, long legs, coal-black hair, with a model's high cheekbones under piercing aqua-blue eyes.
"Ta-da," she said, announcing herself with her own chord. She stood before me, modeling the bathing suit. "You like, mister? Want kissy-kissy?"
I grabbed her arm and pulled her down onto my lap.
"You are not wearing that in public. But get thee to the bedroom, wench." I grinned and nuzzled her behind the ear, as I picked her up to carry her inside.
"Put me down," she laughed. "We'll get to that later. I'm trying to pack."
We were leaving tomorrow for Hawaii. It was our annual two-week LAPD-mandated vacation. I could hardly wait to get away. As usual, we'd timed our vacation periods to coincide, and for fourteen glorious days I'd have no homicides to investigate, no gruesome crime-scene photos or forensic reports to study, no grieving families to console. Only acres of white sand and surf with my gorgeous wife in paradise.
Alexa had worked twelve-hour days for a week to get her office squared away so she could afford the time off. Alexa is a lieutenant and the acting commander of the Detective Division of the LAPD. She's about to make captain, and the job will be made permanent. That makes her technically my boss. I'm a D-3 working out of the elite homicide squad known as Homicide Special, where we handle all of L.A.'s media-worthy, high-profile murders. It's a good gig, but I was feeling burned out and needed some time away.
"Put me down. That's a direct order, Detective," she said, faking her LAPD command voice.
"You can give the orders in that squirrel cage downtown, but at home it's best two out of three falls, and in that outfit, get ready to be pinned."
"You brute. Stop making promises and get to it, then." She kissed me.
I was trying to get the sliding-glass door opened without dropping her. I barely made it, and lugged her across the carpet into the bedroom, which was littered with her resort outfits. It looked like a bomb had gone off in a clothing store. Bathing suits, shorts, and tops scattered everywhere.
"What happened in here?" I grinned and dropped her on the bed, then dove on top of her.
Sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am to have won her. I'm a scarred, scabrous piece of work with a nose that's been broken too many times and dark hair that never quite lays down. Alexa is so beautiful she takes my breath away. How I ended up with her is one of my life's major mysteries.
I reached for the string tie on her bikini and she rolled right, laughing as I grabbed her arm to pull her back. Just then, the phone rang.
"If that's your office again, I'm gonna load up and clean out that entire floor of gold-braid pussies you work with," I said, only half in jest.
The phone kept blasting us with electronic urgency. It was quickly ruining the moment. Alexa rolled off the bed and snatched it up.
"Yes?" Then she paused. "Who is this?" She hesitated. "Just a minute."
She turned toward me, covering the receiver with her palm. "You know somebody named Diamond Peterson?"
"No, but if she's related to Diamond Cutter, tell her she's killing her little brother."
"Stop bragging about your wood and take this," Alexa grinned, handing me the phone.
I sat on the side of the bed and put the receiver to my ear.
"Yes? This is Detective Scully."
"You're a police detective?" a female voice said with a slight ghetto accent. She sounded surprised.
"Who is this again?"
"Diamond Peterson. I'm calling from Huntington House Group Home." The mention of the group home shot darkness through me. Memories of that part of my life were negative and confusing. I now only visit them occasionally in dreams.
"How can I help you, Ms. Peterson?" I asked cautiously.
"It's about Walter Dix. Since you're in the police, I assume you've heard."
"Heard what? Is Pop okay?"
"Not hardly." She hesitated, then let out a breath that sounded like a sigh and plunged ahead. "Pop's dead."
A wave of overlapping feelings cascaded through me. When they settled, the emotion on top was guilt. I had left Walt and the group home in my rearview mirror decades ago. I had been studiously ignoring the man who had injected the only bit of positive energy into my life growing up — the man to whom I probably owed a large portion of my eventual survival. Pop provided a thread of hope that had been all that was left when I hit rock bottom eight years ago.
Even during my lowest days, because of Pop, I clung to the belief that there was still some good in the world despite the fact that by the time I reached my mid-thirties, I'd managed to find almost none.
It was hard to know the complete mixture of events that had finally led to my salvation. The easy ones to spot were Alexa, and my now-grown son, Chooch, who is attending USC on a football ride. But Pop was also there in a big way. He had somehow convinced me that it was possible to survive a horrible start where I was left unattended in a hospital waiting room, a nameless baby with no parents, who was then shuffled off to a county infant orphanage. Child Protective Services had finally placed me at Huntington House at the age of six, but by then I was already starting to rot from the inside.
It marked the beginning of a life of loneliness, which was only occasionally interrupted by a parade of strangers. Once or twice a year I was forced to put on my best clothes and stand like a slave waiting to be purchased. "This is Shane, he's seven years old. This is Shane, he's nine. This is Shane, he's twelve."
All the rejection, all the rage — Pop had seen me through it with his crinkly smile, the weird seventies surfer lingo, the sunrise surf patrols. "Shane, there's a place for you. You have to be patient." All these years later, it turned out he'd been right.
But once I'd survived it, I'd turned my back on him. I'd moved on. It was too painful to go back there and revisit that part of my life, so I hadn't. I'd left Pop behind as surely as if I'd thrown him from a moving car.
The memory made me feel small as I stood in our bedroom scattered with Alexa's colorful clothing. I'd been getting ready to run off to paradise but had just been pulled back with one sentence from a woman I didn't know.
"Dead?" I finally managed to say.
"Suicide. He went into his backyard yesterday and blew his head off with a shotgun."
Diamond Peterson was talking softly, trying to mute the devastating news with gentle tonality. It wasn't working. I knew from years of police work in homicide that there is no good way to deliver this kind of information.
My stomach did a turn. I felt my spirits plunge.
"I've been meaning to stop by and see him," I said. It was, of course, completely off the point and pretty much a huge lie.
"He left a note in his desk," she said. "It was written a week before he died. He wanted you to be one of his pallbearers."
Excerpted from The Pallbearers by Stephen J. Cannell. Copyright © 2009 Stephen J. Cannell. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
In his thirty-five-year career, Emmy Award-winning writer Stephen J. Cannell has created more than forty TV series. Among his hits are The Rockford Files, Silk Stalkings, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, Hunter, Renegade, Wiseguy, and The Commish. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and children.
- Pasadena, California
- Date of Birth:
- February 5, 1941
- Place of Birth:
- Los Angeles, California
- B.S., University of Oregon
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I liked this book. Great quick read and the characters were likable. I've lived in Arizona and California so the location of the story worked for me.
The Pallbearers are six individuals who were troubled youth who were mentored by one Water Dix. Dix has committed suicide and so it is thought. Since one of the pallbearers is Shane Scully, a L.A. cop, the others pressure him to investigate. An interesting plot and group of characters, and Stephen J. Cannell knows how to write, but it lacked something. I enjoyed the book but could take it or leave it.