The Tin Collectors by Stephen J. Cannell, Robert Lawrence
Bestselling novelist Stephen J. Cannell weaves a high-tension novel around a chilling conspiracy of corruption within the LAPD
L.A. police detective Shane Scully comes under investigation by Internal Affairs (derisively known as "the tin collectors") after he kills his ex-partner, who was one of the mayor's bodyguards. Temporarily reassigned so that he can remain under the department's watchful eye, Scully finds that more than his badge is at stake when he is set up to take the rap in a deadly plot of corruption and conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of the LAPD.
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.
Shane was in deep REM black. Way down there, but still he heard the telephone's electronic urgency. The sound hung over him, a vague shimmer, way above, up on the surface. Slowly he made his way to it, breaking consciousness, washed in confusion and anger. His bedroom was dark. The digital clock stung his eyeballs with a neon greeting: 2:16 A.M. He found the receiver and pressed it against his ear.
"Yeah," he said, his voice a croak and a whisper.
"Shane, he's trying to kill me," a woman hissed urgently.
"What ... who is this?"
"It's Barbara." She was whispering, but he could also hear a loud banging coming over the receiver on her end, as if somebody was trying to break down a door.
"He's trying to kill you?" he repeated, buying time so his mind could focus.
Barbara Molar. He hadn't seen her in over two months, and then just for a moment at a police department ceremony, last year's Medal of Valor Awards. Her husband, Ray, had been one of three recipients.
A crash, then: "Jesus, get over here, Shane. Please. He'll listen to you. He's nuts, worse than ever."
Shane heard another crash. Barbara started screaming. He couldn't make out her next words, then: "Don't, please ..." She was whimpering, the phone was dropped on a hard floor, clattering, bouncing, getting kicked in some desperate struggle.
"Barbara? Barbara?" She didn't answer. He heard a distant,guttural grunting like a man sometimes makes during sex, or a fight.
Shane got out of bed and started gathering up clothes. He slipped into his pants and grabbed his faded LAPD sweatshirt. He snapped up his ankle gun, hesitated for a moment, then pulled it out, chambered it, and strapped it on. He ran out of his bedroom toward the garage without even looking for his shoes. He was already behind the wheel when he realized he had forgotten that Chooch Sandoval was asleep in the other bedroom. He wasn't used to having fifteen-year-old houseguests. He knew he shouldn't leave Chooch alone. The garage door was going up as he backed out his black Acura. Grabbing for his cell phone, he dialed a number from memory. He streaked down the back alley away from his Venice, California, canal house, as cold beach air slipstreamed past the side window onto his face.
Brian "Longboard" Kelly, his boned-out next-door neighbor, picked up the phone. "Whoever this is, fuck you" was the way he came on the line.
"Sorry, Brian, it's Shane. I got called out, and Chooch is still asleep in the guest bedroom."
"Chooch? Who the hell ..."
"The kid I told you I was taking for the month. Sandy's kid. He came yesterday."
"Ohhh, man ..."
"Look, Brian, just go over and sleep on my couch. The key is in the pot by the back door."
"Good place, dickbrain. Who would ever think to look there?"
"Just do it, will ya? I'll owe ya."
"Fuckin' A." Longboard slammed the phone down in Shane's ear.
Shane was now at Washington Boulevard. He hung a left and headed the short distance to the Molar house. When they'd still been partners, he'd made this trip at least once a day to pick up Ray, heading across Washington to South Venice Boulevard, through Gangbang Circle, where, once it got dark, the V-Thirteens and Shoreside Crips staged their useless, life-ending street actions, occasionally killing or wounding a tourist from Minnesota by mistake.
He shot across Abbot Kinney Boulevard and turned right onto California, finally coming to Shell Avenue. All the way there, he wondered why Barbara would call him. Why not dial 911? Of course, the answer was sort of obvious after he thought about it. Even though she was scared spitless, she still didn't want another domestic-violence beef in Ray's LAPD Internal Affairs jacket. He was a thirty-year veteran with a big pension, which another DV complaint would jeopardize. That pension was an asset that was half hers.
Still, Shane Scully was the last guy Ray Molar would want to see coming through his door, quoting departmental spousal-abuse regulations at two A.M. So why Shane? Why not Ray's current partner? He guessed he knew that answer, too. She called him because she thought she could control him, use him for protection, then keep him from talking. Also he was handy, only five miles away.... Just like before, he had turned up as the double zero on her slow-turning roulette wheel.
When he got to Ray's small, wood-sided house, he pulled into the driveway behind Ray's car and jumped out. The hood was warm on the dark blue Cadillac Brougham; the lights were on in the house. Then he heard muffled screaming.
"Shit, I hate this," he mumbled softly, feeling the cold grass on his bare feet. He moved toward the house, tried the front door and, to his surprise, found it was open. Reluctantly, he stepped into his ex-partner's living room.
Ray's house always seemed delicate and overdecorated. Too much French fleur-de-lis upholstery, too many knickknacks and hanging lamps. It was Barbara's doing and definitely didn't seem like the lair of a street monster like Ray Molar. Ray should live in a cave, cooking over an open fire, throwing the gnawed bones over his shoulder.
Shane could hear Barbara's screams coming from the back of the house, so he moved in that direction. He came through the bedroom door just in time to see Ray Molar hit his slender, blond wife in the solar plexus with the butt end of his black metal street baton. Then, as she doubled over, he expertly swung the night-stick sideways, catching her in the side of the head with a "two from the ring" combat move ... a baton-fighting tactic taught to every recruit at the Police Academy. Shane stood frozen, as Barbara, her head bleeding badly, slumped to the floor, almost unconscious.
"Ray ..." Shane's voice, a raspy whisper, cut the temporary silence like a sickle slashing dry wheat. "What's the story here, buddy?"
Ray Molar swung around. He was at least six-four and weighed over two-forty, with huge shoulders and long arms. He had bristly blond hair and a corded, muscled neck. Adding to these Blutoesque dimensions was a huge jutting jaw and almost total lack of a forehead. "Get the fuck outta here, Scully. We don't need the Boy Scouts," Molar growled, his pupils round points of focused hatred.
Shane had seen that look in the street many times before and had come to fear it. "Let's just back off, slow down, and give it a rest, Ray." Shane was moving slowly toward him, not wanting any part of the fury and craziness he saw on his ex-partner, but feeling compelled to get close enough to protect Barbara if he swung on her again. When Ray lost control, he could turn instantly murderous. He spewed white rage without thought, violence without reason.
"You got anything to eat?" Shane said, trying to refocus the energy in the room. "I'm starved. Missed dinner. How 'bout I get us a beer and a sandwich, something.... We chill out a little ... Cool out ... Talk it down ... Get solid ..."
"You wanna eat somethin'? Eat shit, Scully!" He was halfway between Shane and Barbara, still brandishing the black metal police baton.
"Ray, I don't want trouble, but you can't go hitting Barbara with the nightstick, man. You're gonna fuck her up bad."
Then Ray started toward Shane, swinging the metal stick in a lose arc in front of him. "Yeah? Who's gonna stop me, dickwad?"
"Come on, let's stay frosty here, Ray. Let's ... let's" And he stopped talking because he had to duck.
Ray swung the nightstick. It zipped through the air an inch from Shane's ear. As he was coming back up, Ray swung a fist, hitting him with a left hook that landed on Shane's right temple, exploding like a pipe bomb, sending him to the floor, ears ringing. Then Ray yanked a small-caliber snubby out of his waistband. It looked to Shane like an off-brand piece, a European handgun of some kind, maybe a Titan Tiger or an Arminus .38, definitely not standard police issue. Ray always kept a "throw-down gun" on him to drop by a body if some street character got funky and had to take a seat on the sky bus.
"Put it away, Ray."
"You fucking this bitch, too? You fucking her? 'Cause if you ain't, you should get in lineeverybody else is."
"Come on, Ray, that's crazy. I never touched your wife; nobody's messin' with Barb, and you know it. Why're you doin' this?"
"She's been getting snaked by half the fuckin' department." He turned back and glowered at her. "Am I right, baby? Tell him 'bout all the wall jobs you been doin' in the division garage."
Barbara groaned. Ray, turning now, aimed the gun at Shane, pulling the hammer back. Shane watched the cylinder begin to rotate on the center post as Ray applied pressure on the trigger. He was strangely mesmerized by the hole in the barrel; a dark eye of damnation, freezing his stomach, dulling his reactions. He was seconds from death.... Almost without realizing it, his right hand slipped down to his ankle, fingers encircling the wood-checked grip of his 9mm automatic. He slid the weapon free.
Shane dove sideways just as Ray fired. The bullet thunked into the wooden doorframe behind him. Shane was operating on instinct now, with no control over what happened next, going with it, not questioning, rolling, coming up prone, his Beretta Mini-Cougar gripped in both hands.
As Ray turned to fire again, Shane squeezed the trigger. The bullet hit Ray Molar in the middle of his simian brow.
Huge head jerking back violently.
Brainpan exploding, catching the 9mm slug.
Then Ray looked directly at Shane as the gun slipped from his meaty paw and thumped onto the carpet. Ray's pig eyes, bright in that instant, registered hatred and surprise, or maybe Shane was just looking for something human in all that animal ferocity.
Ray Molar took one uncertain step backward and sat on the edge of the bed. Even though his heart was probably still beating, Shane knew that his ex-partner was already dead. But the street monster sat down anyway, almost as if he needed a moment to consider what he should do next or where he should go, momentum and gravity making the decision for him, toppling him forward, thudding him hard, face first, onto the carpet.
Shane looked over at Barbara, who was staring at her dead husband, her mouth agape, her puffed lip split and bleeding.
If you like cop novels, you're going to love this one.
Cannell is a pro at the top of his game.
Cannell is a first rate storyteller and The Tin Collectors never stops:
it's compelling frightening and, in the end, very moving. Don't miss it.
Exclusive Author Essay I had created and written for television for over two decades before I decided to write my first novel in 1995. I remember giving myself a year to complete the book. It was a rather daunting thought to attempt the project, because I had been putting off the adventure since high school. “Novelist” was my teenage ambition.
The transition from screenplay writing to novels seemed frightening to me. After all, I reasoned, novels were so much more complex and they required a nuance of character that teleplay writing never achieved. I still remember the “on your mark, get set” phase of that experience, researching endlessly, putting off the day when I would begin, until finally, I stumbled up to the line and wrote the first chapter of The Plan. I found that there were several differences between screenplay writing and novel writing, and there were several comforting similarities. Let’s take the differences first:
In a screenplay everything has to come out of a character’s mouth. The writer must often create situations where characters will say things to one another that, in real life, they might not say. After all, the audience has to be a witness to the event. This is the only way that we can observe the inner conflict. Writers of screenplays become very adept at finding ways to accomplish that feat of having the characters reveal their innermost secrets. Anger is a great emotion to allow this to happen. In anger, anything can be said. There are other, more subtle ways of achieving this as well: sarcasm, jokes told on the square, and, of course, the old, reliable -- two people discussing a third, who isn’t present.
In a novel, this problem simply disappears, because we have an awesome tool known as omniscient author. This is the writer’s ability to access the character’s innermost thoughts without ever vocalizing them, i.e. “You look beautiful,” he lied, thinking she had gained 50 pounds. Omniscient author is a wonderful tool and makes the writing of a novel much easier in many respects. You can be subtle in ways that are difficult to achieve in screenplay writing.
Another difference occurs in the area of description. How much description is too much? Should I describe the entire room, the color of the drapes, the faded, checked tablecloth, the intricate cornice molding on the ceiling? Or, should I just pick a few vivid details and let the reader’s imagination fill in the rest? “The diner was dingy. Green bottle flies competed in an aerial circus for space, around a naked light bulb. A Waring blender screamed; the smell of grease cloaked everything.”
How much is too much? It is a decision that needs to be constantly dealt with in describing scenes, as well as people. You are in charge of the mix between story, dialogue and description.
In a screenplay it is very different. If I am describing a greasy spoon, all I really need to write is:
EXT. DINER -- DAY
A greasy spoon.
Then wait for the location department to show me pictures. The same is true of the characters. The casting director will call in actors who fit the character descriptions, and after I pick the one I want, the camera and wardrobe departments do the rest.
Writing a novel requires much more research. I will often spend two or three months researching a subject before I write, because I have a much more complete project to deal with, and I don’t want to be writing it off the top of my head.
Now for the similarities:
Novels and screenplays all must have strong, three-act structures. When I say that to a writing class, it is often greeted with skepticism. “How do novels have acts?” I am often asked. And, of course, in the strict theatrical sense, they don’t. But, the elements that go into a three-act screenplay should also exist in novels. In act one, you must define the problem. At the top of act two, you must then complicate that problem and the antagonist must attempt to stop the protagonist. The end of the second act is the destruction of the protagonist’s plans, and in act three, there must be the solution to the original problem. If you lay this simple formula against any classic novel, which has stood the test of time, you will see that it usually fits. The Grapes of Wrath, The Catcher in the Rye, Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind -- the list is endless. Another similarity is the ability to write good dialogue. Good, crisp dialogue is a staple of good writing no matter what the venue.
I found that my transition from writing screenplays, to writing novels, was a release. I blossomed with the discovery of these new tools: multiple points of view, omniscient author, and the rediscovery of metaphors and similes as descriptive phrases. I have now written six novels, my most recent being, The Tin Collectors. I plan to continue writing one novel a year for the rest of my career. I hope you buy them. Keep reading.... See you at the bookstore.
Tin Collectors 4.1 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
My favorite subject of the book was the teenager Chooch because it touched the reality of today's world. It also made me laugh at times.
More than 1 year ago
I couldnt put the book down, I read it from cover to cover in one day. Shane Scully novels are the only books I read outside of sports. This had a little football in it anyway. I suggest you read them in order, I wish I would have!!
More than 1 year ago
This was my first time reading a Stephen J. Cannell novel. I gobbled this book up in two days. I was totally engrossed and just could not put it down. Additionally, I must confess - The ending filled my eyes with bona fide tears! I would love to see this novel brought to the big screen!
More than 1 year ago
Cannell has both an unbelieveable ear for dialogue and an uncanny knack for conjuring inventive plots. The TIN COLLECTORS is a riveting, action-packed, emotionally-charged cop thriller that makes Ed McBain pale in comparison. Cannell is a modern day Hammett who can plot!
More than 1 year ago
Los Angeles Police Sergeant Shane Sculley sleeps peacefully in his bed with no major cares haunting him until the call at 2:16 AM comes. Barbara Mular, the wife of Shane¿s former partner pleads with him to save her life from her husband Ray who is beating her up. When Shane arrives at the Mular home, the door is open so he enters. He sees Ray knocking Barbara around with his nightstick. Shane tries to diffuse the situation, but is forced to kill Ray when the latter draws out his gun. Instead of the normal channels, a high up in the department forces Ray to go before a review board. Ray happens to have been the mayor¿s driver and bodyguard. ¿His Honor¿ wants Shane to go down preferably with a murder conviction. Shane learns that things are soon missing form Ray¿s home and if they discretely reappear all charges would be dropped. Shane knows corruption has been a way of life for LAPD (duh!), and he has to uncover it if he wants to clear his name. Stephen Cannell starts this novel with a fast-action tale that continues to build up momentum until the story line exceeds the speed of light. Readers will empathize with Shane, an endearing hero struggling to regain his idyllic life lost in the corruption maelstrom. THE TIN COLLECTORS is an exciting story that leaves the audience wondering who will police the police when IA is corrupt? Harriet Klausner
More than 1 year ago
Great police crime novel that grabs you with the first paragraph! I highly recommend it and will continue on to the next Shane Scully book.
More than 1 year ago
Great suspenseful read. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series. If you like cop series, read this book!
I would also recommend: The Jack Reacher series by Lee Child and the Inspector Wexford series by Ruth Rendell.
More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I picked it up in the book for a book review I had to do for a college class. I thought it was going to be just a boring book, but it wasn't it keep me very interested. I really like the way the book turns out when Shane finds out he is Chooch's father. This book also relates to the everyday world of police corruption.
More than 1 year ago
This is the first Stephen Cannell novel I have read and I liked the way this author developed the complicated plot. The characters were well developed and although I picked up early on the attraction between Shane and Alexa I was impressed with the way these characters were handled. I also liked the ending in which the loose ends were all tied together. In so many novels there is non stop action until the last page leaving the reader unclear as to the motives. One such novel of this was Deep Fantom.
More than 1 year ago
This book was not only a pleasure to read but also amazingly interesting. At first i was skeptical becuase i wasn't too sure how a novel about the LAPD was going to keep me interested but once again Cannell has managed to put together a book that includes murder, romance, as well as more than you ever wanted to know about the LAPD! I find Cannell's writing to be so interesting because you will actually learn something with each novel of his you read, and the subjects are endless. The book is an excellent read and will leave you hanging to the point it's next to impossible to put down. I loved every minute of it! Thank you Stephen , your a creative genius!
More than 1 year ago
Well written, and hard to put down.The Author of this book should meet the Author of another shocking cop true-life story, U.S Customs Badge of Dishonor.Both of these books would make great movies.
Meet Chick Best—a middle-aged, self-absorbed California dot.com millionaire. Other than his house and high-priced foreign
cars, Chick’s most expensive possession is his trophy wife, Evelyn. Evelyn is good at spending Chick’s money, money that has pretty much run out. Another ...
A former Air Force investigator comes out of retirement to find a killer, only to
discover a massive government cover-up.Retired Air Force investigator Martin Collins lives a quiet life in rural Virginia, working as a local chief of police and ...
DEA agent Rodrigo Ramirez is sent undercover to Gloryanne Barnes's stepbrother's farm in Jacobsville, Texas,
where he's looking to bust a new and vicious drug cartel. Gloryanne is smart, savvy and fiercely independent, but her job has put her in ...
A genius, hairless, seven-foot-tall psychopath, Leonard Land is many people wired into the cyber-subculture of
Satanism and Death Metal. He is smart and cunning. He is quick, brutal and deadly. And he is everywhere. A renegade U.S. customs agent, a ...
From New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes a classic tale of romance to
warm your heart this holiday seasonGabriel's Angel Pregnant, alone and on the run to protect her unborn child, Laura Malone found herself stranded on a ...
Lena Gamble is an LAPD cop held in disgrace by department higher-ups for the explosive
way her last case played out, though she’s still hailed as a hero by her colleagues for catching the killer. For her punishment, she hasn’t ...
A meteorite has struck Earth without warning, unleashing a deadly alien virus. Thousands fall victim
– but not Sarah and Robert. Instead they develop strange side effects – psychic abilities. And that makes them a target for HIDRA, a rogue ...
Charged with felony misconduct in a high-profile solicitation of murder case, Scully is faced with
an impossible decision: either quietly resign from his job as a detective for the LAPD or face criminal prosecution. His wife, Alexa, the chief of ...