Picks and Pans Review: Riding the Snake

updated 11/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Stephen J. Cannell

Page-turner of the week

Beverly Hills layabout Wheeler Cassidy has only three interests: Scotch, golf and hitting on the wives of fellow country-club members (he calls it spearfishing). But when his respectable lawyer brother Prescott dies abruptly at his desk and his secretary is found dead after grisly torture, Wheeler has a mission. His investigation leads quickly to Hong Kong and mainland China and to a passionate lecture by author Cannell (King Con, Final Victim), who argues that Chinese organized crime is flooding the U.S. with drugs, guns and illegal immigrants (a journey known as riding the snake). With its crackling cast of power brokers, California cops and Asian gangsters, Snake slithers along to an explosive climax under the streets of Los Angeles, where Wheeler finally must deal with guilt over his irresponsible past. (Morrow, $25)

Bottom Line: A fine ride with a master at the wheel

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