A funny thing happened on the way to the publisher: Stephen J.
Cannell may have written the book of his career with WHITE SISTER.
One does not say this lightly. Despite all those pretenders to the
throne, Cannell is the REAL King of All Media, having scripted many
hit movies, created enough television series to have a cable
network going (you're welcome, Viacom), and for the past decade or
so written a number of bestsellers, including his venerable
Shane Scully series. His latest novel featuring the LAPD
detective is over the top. And that's a good thing.
WHITE SISTER starts out innocuously enough, with Scully and his
wife Alexa (who is head of the Los Angeles Police Department
Detective Services Group) getting ready to leave work. Alexa
promises to see Scully at home within a couple of hours; all too
soon, however, she goes among the missing. Her automobile is
discovered with David Slade, a fellow police officer, handcuffed
and brutally murdered in the front seat. Naturally, Alexa is a
suspect in his death. Scully, against orders, begins to investigate
both the murder and his wife's fate, a course of action that
rapidly escalates out of control.
Things become worse as Scully follows a trail that causes him to be
embroiled in the violent world of the rap music industry, where
millions of dollars ride on the capricious whim of the artist and
deadly violence awaits just outside of a limousine window. Chief
among the principals is Stacy, the wife of rap mogul Louis Maluga.
She's a white woman who was raised in the predominantly black
community of Compton and has adopted the walk, talk and attitude of
the gangster rap scene as her own. As Scully learns all too soon,
Stacy has much to do with what has occurred, including the
whereabouts of Alexa. As Scully races to sort out what has happened
and clear Alexa's reputation as well as his own, he finds himself
sinking deeper and deeper into a morass of trouble and pain, one
from which it is doubtful he will ever recover --- if, that is, he
Cannell takes all sorts of chances in WHITE SISTER, transporting
Scully to situations that most readers never thought they'd see,
while at the same time keeping the street lingo and the action
real. A climactic finish in the Las Vegas desert and a quieter but
no less important one in an extended care facility contribute to
making WHITE SISTER not only Cannell's most memorable work but also
one of the more exceptional books in a year full of them.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011