Stephen J. Cannell would have an impressive resume even if he had
never decided to try his hand at writing novels. His tracks are all
over television. Cannell has created more than forty television
series and it is almost impossible to channel surf at night without
running into one of his celluloid children, be it The Rockford
Files, The Commish or The 'A' Team. I fully
expect to turn on the television one night and find myself watching
a new network called The Cannell Channel. Hmmm...wait a minute,
while I trademark that. Anyway, Cannell has also been racking up an
ever- and always-impressive list of novels. I was amazed to
discover that HOLLYWOOD TOUGH, his latest, is also his eighth. It's
hard to believe but he's working on his own shelf as well --- he
certainly deserves one.
Cannell has carved his own niche in the adventure market with
titles that include THE DEVIL'S WORKSHOP and RIDING THE SNAKE. THE
TIN COLLECTORS and THE VIKING FUNERAL, his last two novels,
however, have featured Shane Scully, an LAPD detective who has had
his ups and downs. Scully returns once again in HOLLYWOOD TOUGH.
Nora Bishop, the best friend of Scully's wife, Alexa, is engaged to
Farrell Champion, an A-List movie director who appears ready to
give Bishop the happiness she has so long sought. However, at an
engagement party for the couple, Scully overhears Champion make an
offhand, seemingly joking remark about the deaths of his two
ex-wives. Scully's cop instincts are aroused and, against his
wife's wishes, he begins investigating Champion. He soon finds that
Champion appears to be a man without a past, someone who seemingly
materialized out of nowhere.
At the same time, Scully discovers that a New Jersey mobster is
attempting to infiltrate the Hollywood film industry's union.
Scully, in order to draw the mobster into revealing his real reason
for coming to Hollywood, sets up an elaborate sting operation that,
in addition to being an extremely interesting plot vehicle, permits
Cannell to educate his readers into the whys, hows and wherefores
of film production. Cannell does an excellent job of concisely
explaining the complex world of film deals, as well as the studio
politics that go into the creation of the films that are coming to
a Cineplex near you. These same studio politics have Scully's sting
operation soon spiraling out of control, both creatively and
Scully also is having difficulty with his son, Chooch, who seems to
have secrets that involve an L.A. Gang leader. As Scully and Alexa
are drawn deeper into the sting operation and Chooch's behavior
draws him into danger, Cannell keeps the suspense level high and
maintains for the reader a maximum interest level from beginning to
end, making HOLLYWOOD TOUGH, as with Cannell's seven previous
novels, impossible to put down.
Cannell, with HOLLYWOOD TOUGH, continues to demonstrate that he is
a master of whatever media he should choose to partake. Certainly
the world of suspense literature is richer for his participation.
Perhaps his work will one day become a subgenre unto itself. Even
if this does not occur, Cannell's loyal legion of fans will
undoubtedly keep reading and growing.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011