The orphans who don’t seem to make it in the system end up with Pop, also known as Walter Dix. Walter’s an old surfer who delights in taking in the problem children. Shane Scully is one such child. After being through several foster families, he finally settles at Huntington House under Pop’s care.
Years later, Shane receives a strange phone call stating that Pop has committed suicide and left a note requesting that Shane be one of the six pallbearers at the funeral. When he arrives, he finds the other five pallbearers to be a ragtag bunch with nothing in common except for their relationship with Pop and the fact that none of them actually believes Pop committed suicide.
Stephen J. Cannell is such a noted author that he can sell books simply by having his name on them. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this is my first attempt to read any of his work. It’s difficult with known authors because there’s an expectation there that few can actually live up to. This was a huge exception. I’m not sure why I haven’t been reading Cannell all along. I didn’t have any of the ‘floating’ that usually goes along with well known authors. They know they can sell books so they don’t put their heart and soul into it, just sort of float by. I’m deeply impressed with Cannell’s work and can see now why he’s beloved by so many.
When it comes to mystery books, the most important characteristic for me is whether or not I can solve the mystery before the main character. This book was a huge exception for me. As I started reading, I began to form theories in my head of what might be going on. At the same time, Shane is formulating the exact same theories and operating on them. After a short distance in the book, I just didn’t care anymore if I was correct or not. I was so drawn in to Shane’s world that the mystery didn’t matter. I wanted Pop’s death taken care of as badly as any character in the book, but it was more like I was a seventh pallbearer who was just more silent than the others. I sat with them through meetings and lamented over behaviors and screamed my thoughts in my head instead of out loud. I became so involved that figuring everything out didn’t matter anymore. I just didn’t want the ride to end.
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