by Stephen J. Cannell


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Vigilante by Stephen J. Cannell

Stephen Cannell

In the last novel by acclaimed producer and New York Times bestselling author Stephen J. Cannell, LAPD detective Shane Scully and his partner Sumner Hitchens investigate a crime with ties to the sometimes violent world of reality TV

Lita Mendez was a thorn in the LAPD's side. An aggressive police critic and gang activist, she'd filed countless complaints against the department. So when she's found dead in her home, Detective Scully and his partner Hitchens fear the worst: that there's a killer in their ranks.

Outside the crime scene, Nixon Nash and his television crew have set up shop. Nash is the charismatic host of a hit reality show called "Vigilante TV," dedicated to beating the cops at their own game: solving murders before they can. Now he has the murder of Lita Mendez in his sights. He presents the detectives with a choice: either join his team, or prepare for a public takedown.

But Scully knows that Nash isn't the folk-hero he seems. He will do anything in the name of self-promotion. If a detective got in his way, would he be prepared to kill? In this new novel, Scully will have to risk everything save himself and the job he loves.

This edition of the book is the deluxe, tall rack mass market paperback.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312646110
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 12/06/2011
Series: Shane Scully Series , #11
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Stephen J. Cannell (1941-2010) was the author of the bestselling Shane Scully books, including The Prostitute’s Ball, The Pallbearers, and Three Shirt Deal. He was also an Emmy Award winning television writer and producer, and in his thirty-five-year-career, he created or co-created more than forty TV series. Among his hits were The Rockford Files, Silk Stalkings, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, Hunter, Renegade, Wiseguy, and The Commish. He received numerous awards, including the Saturn Award - Life Career Award (2004), The Marlow Lifetime Achievement Award from Mystery Writers of America (2005), and the WGA Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement (2006). Having overcome severe dyslexia, Cannell was an avid spokesperson on the condition and an advocate for children and adults with learning disabilities.  He was a third-generation Californian and resided in the Pasadena area with his wife, Marcia, and their children.


Pasadena, California

Date of Birth:

February 5, 1941

Place of Birth:

Los Angeles, California


B.S., University of Oregon

Read an Excerpt




The filthy rug limped along the sidewalk on swollen plastic baggie-wrapped feet, hunched against the chilly February wind. It was a Persian design with a navy and cranberry center surrounded by a stained, red and gold border. The rug was worn to the nub. I watched as it leaned against the wall of a six-story ornate rococo structure located on the corner of Broadway and Third Street in downtown L.A. A minute later a puddle of urine seeped from underneath it and spread across the sidewalk to drain into the gutter. The rug was pissing on the north wall of the magnificent Bradbury Building, built in 1893 and considered by most to be one of Los Angeles’s most significant architectural landmarks.

A minute later, the rug turned, revealing that it was wrapped around the shoulders of an ageless man with a complexion like a strawberry pie that had exploded in the oven, the planes and furrows of his face made red by a landscape of sores and broken capillaries. He was one of L.A.’s street denizens. This homeless resident of downtown was on a breakfast tour of the overflowing Dumpsters that sat in the alleys behind Broadway and had paused during his 8:00 A.M. buffet for a leak in plain view of a line of commuter traffic.

He deposited about a quart of dark, yellow liquid on the side of the rococo brick building, the top four floors of which currently housed the Internal Affairs Group of the LAPD.

I’m a police officer posted to Homicide Special, an elite investigations unit that is part of the LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division, and this was my first cop dilemma of the day. As a sworn badge carrier, I knew I should arrest this guy on half a dozen public nuisance ordinances, but it was chilly outside and warm in my car and I had left my overcoat back at the office, so I really didn’t want to budge. Emotionally, I was sort of past this stuff. I’d given up rolling drunks years ago when I’d left Patrol.

I sat there, buffered against the crisp February wind, and tried to conjure up some pity. He was just a poor soul who had slipped through the cracks in our transient, fast-moving society. But ignoring him wasn’t working, because he still had his junk out and continued to urinate in public. I reminded myself that he was pissing on a building that housed the LAPD Internal Affairs Group, an act that most cops would certainly applaud.

I was working on these excuses, while waiting in the red zone in front of the Bradbury, hoping my partner, Sumner Hitchens, would hurry up and come down from a deposition he was giving upstairs at Internal Affairs Group. If he arrived in time I could get out of here without incident and leave the homeless guy to his urine-soaked wanderings.

Detectives all drove department cars, the sole exception being Homicide Special, because of the high-profile, often covert nature of our investigations. Hitch had called me this morning to ask if I could pick him up at IA because he’d dropped his Porsche Carrera off for servicing a block away on Broadway before walking over to the Bradbury.

Hitch was giving this deposition on behalf of two patrol officers who had been accused of beating a suspect named Quadry Barnes in a Hollywood Station interrogation room. My partner had been in the adjacent holding area when the event was supposed to have happened and had witnessed everything. He told me the arresting cops never laid a hand on Quadry, who by the way had just held up a 7-Eleven, killing two teenaged clerks, casually blowing them out of their socks with Teflon Black Talon 9mm hollow points, also known as cop killers, without so much as a shrug.

There was a continually changing set of rules in the street game we all now played. This felon had committed a double murder and, stupid asshole that he was, had done the deed in full view of the store’s surveillance cameras. Once confronted with the video, he abruptly cut a deal with the prosecutor and drew a “Skip Court, Pass Death Row” card, saving the court the time and expense of a lengthy trial and the state endless capital appeals, not to mention the final medical dispatch of Mr. Barnes to the lower regions of hell. As a result, this dirtbag got to keep breathing until he died of natural causes or got shanked in some prison yard brawl.

Right after making his lifesaving deal, Quadry promptly accused the arresting officers of doing a drum solo on his head in the station I-room with their PR-24 aluminum nightsticks.

The EMTs were called but couldn’t find a mark. This fact was of almost no consequence. Once the charge was made, regardless of its validity, Internal Affairs was mandated to take the case. The two patrol cops were pulled from the field and put on paper-clip duty for several months until the adjudication of their IA Board of Rights hearing.

Filing a false police report was a Class C felony worth, at best, only a year in jail, which meant nothing to Quadry Barnes, who had just agreed to serve a life sentence. It was just another part of the endless cycle of BS that cops were now forced to deal with.

I watched as the Persian rug wearer turned to look at the street. He still had his equipment out and now began waving it at the passing commuter traffic. I’d been studiously trying to avoid dealing with this guy, but he’d finally crossed the line. I opened my car door and got out. As I approached him I began to pick up a raw downwind odor, which grew in intensity as I neared.

“Excuse me, sir, but you’re unzipped,” I said politely. “Exposing yourself in public is a violation of Criminal Statute Three-One-Four, punishable by fines and incarceration.”

“You miss me wid dat, dog breath,” he growled through a busted mouth with the few teeth he had spaced wide like the front grille of a ’53 Buick. He waved his meat at me to make his point. “Dis here be the English Sentry. The English Sentry, he do what he do. I got no say over Lord Ding Wallace.”

“Don’t make me arrest you,” I said. Of course we both knew jail would be a step up in his accommodations. To back my empty threat I pulled out my badge. The wind shifted, and I was suddenly treated to an overpowering mixture of ripe odors well beyond my limited powers of description.

“The fuck do I care ’bout dat?” he said, taking offense.

The exchange was starting to escalate, as it usually does with schizophrenic street people.

“You stargazing, tally-whacking piece of shit.” “This here be Morning Pride. Big Boy needs his space.”

I really didn’t want to cuff this guy. If I put him in the Acura, I’d have to shampoo the interior when I got home. I was trying to decide my next move when my cell phone beeped with an incoming text message. I looked down and read a note from my captain, Jeb Calloway, at Homicide Special. He was asking me to call a homicide detective named Rick Laguna in Hollenbeck Division. I turned away from the Persian rug and punched in the attached number.

“Shane Scully, Homicide Special,” I said when he answered. “Is this Detective Laguna?”

“Yeah, Rick Laguna,” an unfamiliar voice replied. “I’m with Hollenbeck Homicide. We just picked up a fresh one-eighty-seven that you guys at Homicide Special need to process.”

“Who got killed?”

“I’d rather keep that off a cell transmission. The address is 1253 North Savannah Street in the Four-A-Fifty-Nine Basic Car Area of Hollenbeck. That block is claimed by the Evergreen gang, so park in tight near curb security.”

The Evergreens were a Hispanic set named after Evergreen Cemetery, which was located in Boyle Heights and was the final resting place for scores of their bullet-riddled homeboys.

“Is this gang related?” I asked.

“Who the hell knows what it is? I’ll tell you this much. You ain’t gonna like it. I’ll fill you in when ya get here.” He hung up.

I heard a splattering noise and pivoted to see the rug had moved behind me to my Acura. Lord Ding Wallace was now dispatching a yellow stream onto my right front tire.

Just then, I spotted Hitch walking toward me from the Bradbury Building carrying a blond alligator wafer case with chunky gold fixtures that he’d once mentioned cost him over two thousand dollars. My millionaire partner was handsome, athletic, and looked tricked out this morning as usual, wearing a gray herringbone jacket with a silver pocket square over dark Armani slacks. Not that I can exactly spot an Armani cut, but I know Hitch favors that designer. His expensive wardrobe, coffee-colored complexion, and neatly trimmed moustache all contributed to his stylish GQ look.

My wardrobe is much closer to the ground. Off-the-rack Macy’s suits that go with my battered club fighter look, broken nose, and cowlicky short black hair.

Hitch stopped short when he saw the rug urinating on my tire and made a gesture of disbelief. “You gonna just let this ragbag piss on your ride, dawg?”

“He’s not pissing on my ride. He’s giving my tires an acid wash,” I deadpanned. “I can have him do yours later if you want.”

Hitch was still frowning at the homeless man as I said, “We just caught a case from Hollenbeck Division. Let’s roll.”

We climbed into the car and pulled away from the curb as the bum shouted after us.

“Go on. Run from the Purple Prince. See if I give a shit!”

I turned at the corner and headed north up Third toward the freeway and Hollenbeck Division. The fresh homicide was a perfect reason to leave the filthy rug, and Lord Ding Wallace, behind.


Copyright © 2011 by Stephen J. Cannell

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Vigilante 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
p1s2 More than 1 year ago
Before you read this last book, there are 10 that comes before. Without reading them you will not understand the characters and how they intertwine. While each book may be a different story, there is another underneath it. Personally speaking, I could and definitely would read more books about Shane Scully- the main character. I can't wait until this book gets here, because I haven't read it yet, but I can vouch for the fact that reading this and all the other books in this series will keep the readers on the edge of their seats. I am sorry that the author died not long after he finished this book, and whether he had started on another for this series I have no clue, but I have been a fan of his shows and of his books.
SteveTheDM More than 1 year ago
Full Disclosure: I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Vigilante as part of the Goodreads First-Reads program, where readers get books for free in the hope that reviews get written for the various social media outlets. I don’t generally choose police procedurals when I select the novels I read, so I don’t have an extensive background in the genre. This one got picked up because I got it free (often a deciding factor)... It’s called “A Shane Scully Novel” and is apparently 11th in the series. I hadn’t read any of the prior novels, but this doesn’t seem to be a factor, as this novel stands alone well. (Stephen J. Cannell, the author, is also the creator of a number of police shows for television, so he’s got the skills for handling loosely connected stories down.) I really loved this book. I was engaged by both the protagonists and antagonists throughout, and thought the premise was original enough that I was not at all anticipating any of the twists that happened. I was quite happy that I was reading this book, and then the ending thundered off the pages, as all the threads were tied together, and thrust the book into the “wow” column. This was a bunch of fun. 5 of 5 stars.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Having read all of the Shane Scully novels written by Stephen J. Cannell before his death, I find it very hard to believe that he wrote this tepid excuse for a Shane Scully story. It just doesn't read like the other books. It's main problem is that it is not very interesting, and Scully novels were nothing if not interesting. Yet the series is a money maker, so don't be surprised to see yet another one. I note that the book nor the book jacket mention that the author is deceased.
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JIMPNY More than 1 year ago
This is a great read...could not put it down. This is as good as The Prostitute's Ball. Stephen J. Cannell was a great story teller and boy could he ever write.
paljbl More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed Vigilante. It was my first Cannell novel and it won't be my last.
vette01 More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed the Shane Scully series. I like the relationship between him and his wife. I must admit though Shane seems to get a lot of cases that are a little out there. It is a shame that Mr. Cannell is deceased because I would have liked to have read more books in the Shane Scully series.
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RoRP More than 1 year ago
Stephen Cannell did not disappoint! Fast action, good dialogue - can't wait for the next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is like all his others. He might be the best author that I have ever read. I've read all his books starting with the first one. I'm very sad that he died and that their will be no more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was great reading
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Opinion: not one of the better entries in the series. The villain is over-capable, and I missed Alexa and Chooch, plus Chooch's girlfriend. I would imagine that Cannell planned more books in the series, thus left questions for sequels, but I feel left hanging.
tottman More than 1 year ago
I was fortunate to receive an early review copy of Stephen Cannell¿s Vigilante, a Shane Scully novel. This was my first time reading Cannell and even though it¿s the 11th Shane Scully novel, I had no problem jumping into the story. Shane Scully and his partner, Sumner Hitchens, get handed a hot case. The murder of Lita Mendez, a gang activist with a long history of filing complaints and making enemies in the police department. To make it hotter, Nixon Nash, host of the show, Vigilante, shows up and plans to make the case the centerpiece of his show. A show which has embarrassed police and ended careers in other cities in previous seasons. This was a fast-paced, well-written and entertaining crime mystery. The characters were nicely developed and engaging. There were enough suspects to keep you uncertain who the killer was, without feeling misled with flimsy red herrings. It was also refreshing to have a protagonist who was fairly well-adjusted, without a drinking or drug problem, a skeleton in his closet, or some other emotional or moral problem to overcome. Just a good investigator in trying circumstances. Nix Nash was a villiain you love to hate. A smarmy tv host with a checkered past and vast resources. His actions and the motives behind them keep you guessing until the end. This book is in some ways an old fashioned gumshoe detective novel, but with a modern twist in the form of a tv investigation racing with the detective to solve the crime. Cannell skillfully blends the two different worlds into an entertaining novel. An interesting detective along with a complicated cast of villains and suspects makes for a very good read. I look forward to checking out other Cannell/Scully books. Recommended for any fan of crime fiction and mystery novels.
DAinNY1 More than 1 year ago
The murder of an outspoken advocate against the police brings a reality-TV star to the scene who proclaims that he¿ll solve this case, alluding to police corruption. Shane suspects something else is going on and will have to derail the star¿s rise to the stop. What a rollercoaster ride! From the first page to the exciting conclusion, I knew I would not be able to put this book down. I was pulled right into the non-stop, fast-fury action of Shane and his team as they investigated a murder mystery with plenty of viable suspects. The villain is clever, but so is our hero who is determined to put an end to his shenanigans once and for all, even if it means sidestepping legality. This is another great book in this engaging and thrilling series and I¿ll forever miss seeing Shane Scully and the team again.
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