Vertical Coffin Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Vertical Coffin

St. Martin's, Jan 2004, 24.95, 400 pp.
ISBN: 0312304250

Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff Emo Rojas is handing out a routine warrant when Vincent Smiley kills him. Cops kill Vincent, but that is not the end of the story. The Sheriff's Department is outraged not because one of them was gunned down. With the amount of ammo stored inside Smiley's abode, they believe that the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco knew what their deceased comrade was walking into, but provided no warning.
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Not long afterward, AFT Special Reaction Team member Billy Greenridge lies in a coffin with his compatriots convinced that this was payback for Emo's death. The only major neutral law enforcement group in Southern California is the LAPD. The brass assigns Sergeant Shane Scully to keep the peace between the hostile armies by solving the second homicide. Shane alienates not only both bellicose sides but his wife and other superiors as he defies everyone by investigating Smiley, but not as a “suicide by cop” victim as his superiors including his wife believe.

The latest Scully tale is the best to date as the key players from both armed camps, several criminal elements, LAPD especially the hero's wife, his temporary Internal Affairs partner, and Shane seem so real. The tempers flaring make Shane's endeavor that much more difficult, but as a consequence that is more fun for the audience. Stephen J. Cannell is at the top of his game with this powerful police procedural that has the Blue Knights ready to war with one another unless Shane can prove in a rapid response that Greenridge's death was caused by a third party.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of Vertical Coffin

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues Time/era of story:    -   2000+ (Present) What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   80% Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   Proving innocence of very obvious suspect Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes Who's the criminal enemy here?    -   police gone bad

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   California

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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Stephen J. Cannell Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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