Friday, June 17, 2011

Cannell Lope!

Yes boys and girls, time for another visit to

Bookworm's Book Club!

Riding the Snake  (Avon Books, 1999) Prolific television producer Stephen Cannell turned to some new interests as the 21st century approached, producing movies, doing more acting, and writing novels. The first few books were one shot stories, but eventually the siren call of continuing characters got him and he settled in to a series of novels starring "Shane Scully." But this is one of the earlier standalone efforts, his fourth. The story can be boiled down to Cannell's favorite recipe: mismatched partners who learn to work together and find they're more effective as a team. In this case the opposites thrown together are Wheeler Cassidy and Tanisha Williams. Wheeler's a dissolute millionaire's son pissing his privileged life away with too much booze and too many married women; Tanisha's a woman straight out of Compton working as a police officer and trying to bust the glass ceiling, walls, and floor that surround her with sexism and racism. They meet when Wheeler's brother Prescott is murdered - Prescott, the golden boy of the Wheeler family, who did everything right that Wheeler did wrong. But then, who would murder such an upright citizen? The clues point to the Chinese Tongs and as Wheeler and Tanisha bicker over their separate investigations, it begins to appear maybe Prescott was more deeply involved than it seemed; in fact. possibly involved with the Tongs in a way no "upright citizen" should be. The mystery takes the duo across the country and even around the world to China, with criminals wielding swords and diplomatic immunity chasing after them, ready to kill. Will Wheeler and Tanisha be able to stay alive long enough to learn to work together, let alone solve the crime?

Because no blog post should be without photos, here's a
recent pic of the late great Stephen Cannell with one of his
series stars - one of my faves - Daniel Hugh Kelly from TV's
Hardcastle and McCormick.
    I've always enjoyed Cannell's writing, first on television and now in prose form. I've been reading his novels chronologically, and he got better with each successive book - and they weren't bad to begin with. He has of course, sadly passed away recently. But he was a very good writer. And this is a really good book. Yeah, it has the mismatched partners shtick, but this novel goes quickly beyond that - with a fast pace, lots of action, and most importantly, some really cool insights into Chinese culture. I have no idea if Cannell researched all this within an inch of his life or was making stuff up whole cloth, but it all sounds completely plausible and is just fascinating. There's also a terrific subplot about a downtrodden Chinese man desperate to escape his horrible life in China for even a chance at life in the West. If you've ever enjoyed any of Cannell's many TV shows, or you like action suspense novels, I give Riding the Snake a high recommendation. Check this one out! (Of the library, even, if needs be!)

Til next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Cool! I'll have to check that book out. :)

  2. Intersting stuff here. It looks like I'll have to visit my bookstore. Nice recommendation!