The Prostitutes' Ball (Shane Scully)
by Stephen J. Cannell
Cover Artist: Paul Stinson
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
St. Martin's Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312557300
Date: 12 October 2010 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
I LOVED this book. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the style of writing. The plot surrounds Detective Shane Scully in Los Angeles. His wife, Alexa is also in the LAPD, but is chief of detectives. As Shane and Alexa are heading home from a Christmas party, they get called to the scene of a triple murder in a mansion in the mountains overlooking LA. In addition to the three dead bodies, the scene is odd. The house is completely empty and has been for years. The backyard and the pool are well-kept and had been rented for Christmas party.
Shane has just been assigned a new partner, Detective Sumner Hitchens. Hitchens recently sold one of his previous cases to Jamie Fox and it was made into a movie that made Hitchens rich. He wears perfect clothes, lives in beautiful house, drives a great car and takes cooking lessons in Europe. None of these things endear him to his fellow down-to-earth policemen and Shane loudly protests when Hitchens is assigned to him. Shane is forced to deal with it, but it turns out that Hitchens may not follow the normal uniform code of a policeman, but he is very good at investigating. He and Shane work together, but watch each other closely.
The book is told from the perspective of making a movie. Since Hitchens sold a previous case, he talks about each new development as a "good Plotline" or "the beginning of Act II" etc. It irritates the heck out of Shane because he wants to be all business and investigate the crime. It turns out that Hitchens is a much better cop than people give him credit for. His character develops a great deal though the book.
Skully and Hitchens investigate the triple murder, and find out the event was the annual Prostitutes’ Ball. The madam for a high-end call girl service sponsors the party every year and allows each girl to bring her favorite customer. Hitchens is delighted that this is such a juicy plotline. Unfortunately for the movie plot, the murder suspect is caught on the property's security video, so the case is decided very quickly. Skully and Hitchens think the case is closed, but one stray piece of evidence shows up on the scene that doesn’t match the case. Skully and Hitchens choose to follow the lead and end up with a much larger case that carries the rest of the movie, er, I mean book.
The book is great. It I could not wait to see what happened next. The story reads quickly, but is not a simple and cushy story like some are. The plot is great when you want to think a little, but it's not so complicated that you need to take notes and write a spread sheet to figure everything out.
The author Steven Cannell is a Hollywood-type himself. He namedrops his own name in one scene where Skully and Hitchens need to visit a movie production studio to follow a lead. The movie perspective that the story follows is very entertaining. I could picture the movie scenes in my head as a read.
I highly recommend The Prostitutes’ Ball.