More mindless action in the Shane Scully series (Vertical Coffin, 2004, etc.), with our hero adrift in the wild world of rap.

More mindless action in the Shane Scully series (Vertical Coffin, 2004, etc.), with our hero adrift in the wild world of rap.

What's an LAPD homicide dick doing in the middle of a hip-hop turf war? The answer's a bit on the muddled side, but then clarity (or plausibility) has never really been the point of this hot-to-trot series.

So there's this corpse very dead from a bullet behind the ear: Alexa Scully's gun, Alexa's car, but no Alexa to be found. Has she been kidnapped? Turns out that's not the case. Thanks to some wayward plotting, Lieutenant Alexa Scully, universally liked, a hero cop with an unblemished record is unhesitatingly named . . . leading suspect? Huh?

At any rate, only Shane is prepared to call an obvious frame a frame, but nobody takes him seriously, since it's well-known that love is blind, and that Shane is one bravura lover: "I love her with a power so pure it sometimes frightens me."

Consequently, he's forced to investigate solo. But soon enough, he turns up a connection between the corpse and the music industry that draws him into a world both foreign to him and infinitely more violent than he could have imagined.

Two hip-hop companies are engaged in a vicious, take-no-prisoners war, having to do with talent and, of course, money. Married to the boss of one of these is Stacy Meluga, the White Sister of the title. "Kind of the Lady Macbeth of hip-hop" is one of the gentler thoughts Shane has about her as they become more closely acquainted. Though he doesn't quite know how, Shane is sure it's Stacy who's behind his beloved wife's woes.

Inevitably, there's a shoot-out during which Shane behaves with his customary derring-do. And at the end of which is the usual rough-hewn attempt at explanation.

Hip-hop, slam-bang, slap-dash.