A Shane Scully Novel
A nightmarish series of events sweeps LAPD's Sergeant Shane Scully and his wife (and boss), Alexa, into the vortex of an enormous, jurisdictional firestorm.
First, a sheriff's deputy, a friend of Shane's, is gunned down while serving a routine search warrant. His fellow deputies blame the incident on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, whom they angrily accuse of having failed to warn them that the suspect had a huge arsenal of illegal weapons in his house.
Soon thereafter, a member of the ATF Situation Response Team is shot to death, followed by the sniper murder of the Sheriff's Special Enforcement Bureau. At the request of the Mayor, LAPD, as an uninvolved and unbiased agency, assigns Shane Scully to investigate.
He is given an impossible deadline to find a solution before these two elite and deadly SWAT Teams kill each other off amid a hurricane of horrible publicity. Shane pursues his investigation in a direction that neither his chief nor his wife agrees with, and succeeds in putting himself, his loved ones, and his career in terrible jeopardy before he finally discovers the shocking and deadly truth.
The title of the latest entry in Cannell's Shane Scully LAPD series (Hollywood Tough; The Tin Collectors; The Viking Funeral) is police jargon for any doorway, which is where cops are most vulnerable when clearing a house. As the novel begins, Shane stumbles into a full-scale barricade shootout between gunman Vincent Smiley and surrounding police. After one of two competing SWAT teams at the scene burns down the barricaded house with Smiley in it, a fight over who is to blame begins to smolder. Several subsequent cop shootings (with all victims caught in the aforementioned vertical coffins) fan the SWAT team turf tussle into a conflagration that Shane and wife Alexa, the acting head of the LAPD Detective Services Group, are assigned to investigate. Shane, an old school detective, insists on starting from zero and looking into shooter Smiley's past. Everyone else wants him to forget the gumshoe routine and come up with an instant solution. The pleasure of Cannell's work isn't in the writing ("Bullets whined and ricocheted in a deadly concert of tortured metal"), but lies more often in the interesting procedural elements ("It's very hard to protect a crime scene, so I always start at the far edges first, and work in toward the body"). Shane's still a little rough around the edges, but despite too many pop psychology musings, he's a dependable and satisfying character. Readers will enjoy watching him puzzle out the twists and turns of the plot and watch breathlessly as he undertakes a climactic high-speed chase in a souped-up dune buggy on a military shooting range. Forecast: It's no surprise that Cannell's novels have a cinematic bent as he's the creator or co-creator of 38 television shows and author of more than 350 scripts for these shows. Solid publisher backing and a built-in fan base should push this one onto some best seller lists.
IBook editing errors
I enjoyed this story greatly, as I did the other two Shane Scully books. However I am very unhappy that this and the other one I got from the iBook store had many wrong words, capitalization errors, etc. because the scanned version of the originals was not competently cleaned up. A couple of additional pairs of eyes could have fixed this easily and at little cost. It's very distracting for "die" to appear repeatedly where the author wrote "the."
Vertical Coffin...Great Read
Action packed crime story with plausible twists, turns and "uh-oh"s. The characters are well developed and likable..except for the bad guy...he's not likable.
The story never stalls, and always makes sense. It is well written with humorous sarcasm. Most importantly...it's believable. I loved it!