Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Viking Funeral by Stephen J. Cannell

I don’t wish to spill much ink on this novel, The Viking Funeral by Stephen J. Cannell. Suffice it to say, my comment to Christi, as I finished reading this one aloud to her, was, “Thank God that trudge through Hell is over!”

It’s not a badly written book. The problem is the agonizing situation of the main character, Shane Scully of the LAPD. He gets himself entrenched with a band of cops turned criminals. One of the bad cops is Shane’s friend since childhood, Jody. And, Jody, well, he is by no means faking his bad-ass demeanor. Whew, I’ll spare you the details of the slaughter in the final 50 pages of the book.

Not to mention the excessive use of obscenities.

Not to mention how Shane scrapes through with only a few minor injuries after about 100 attempts on his life. (Gosh, do I hate convenient near misses! What is this? An episode of the A-Team?!)

For much of the novel, Shane is depressed. He believes that he has killed the love of his life. He is witnessing first hand the depths of corruption of his former best friend. He must act the part of a criminal to maintain his cover. The whole crew is wasted on drugs, and most of them would sooner kill Shane then let him in on their deal, as Jody has agreed. Three-quarters of the way through the novel, Shane decides to commit suicide. I could sympathize. Reading about his plight was getting me very depressed as well.

You might ask why we persisted in reading something so dark and depressing. Well, my take was that the first book in the Scully series, The Tin Collectors, was nearly as good as any Michael Connelly novel. I kept hoping that this second in the series would make a turn and start to charm me again as did the earlier one. It did not happen.

Really I can only recommend this book to someone who felt that She’s Come Undone was the feel-good novel of the 1990s. (For me, personally, that was the bleakest novel ever written.) You have to be a glutton for punishment to enjoy The Viking Funeral.

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