Author (King Con) and Emmy Award-winning TV writer Cannell (The Rockford Files) continues his string of commercially appealing suspense novels with an offbeat, action-driven police drama about high-level corruption in the LAPD. This time around, Cannell fans will discover a refreshingDand newly sprungDconcern for his characters' motivations. Sgt. Shane Scully, a well-decorated L.A. detective, receives a late-night phone call from Barbara Molar, a former girlfriend and current wife of Shane's ex-partner, Ray. Ray has a history of violence, and right now he is trying to kill Barbara. Without waiting for backup, Shane runs to the rescue and is forced to kill Ray in self-defense. Fully expecting to be vindicated after a routine debriefing, instead Shane finds himself persona non grata with fellow officers and the mayor. He's a murder suspect, and he's accused of stealing sensitive case files that Ray was working on at home. The case is referred to Shane's former nemesis Alexa Hamilton, a legendary ""tin collector"" at Internal Affairs. In a subplot, Shane helps out Sandy Sandoval, a call girl turned police informant, with her confused, angry son. Sandy is involved in a sting operation and enlists Shane's help as a role model for 15-year-old Chooch, who is on the verge of being expelled from private school. While helping Chooch mature and defending his own career, Shane suddenly discovers that Alexa is really a secret ally. The pair, now tentative lovers, follow a convoluted trail exposing political land graft. Exhibiting a new sensitivity to his characters' emotional depth, Cannell continues to improve as a novelist. (Jan. 13) Forecast: Recent revelations about corruption in the LAPD add credence to Cannell's story. An excerpt in the Avon paperback release of The Devil's Workshop (Nov.) should pique advance interest, while major ad/promo, including a national author tour, and a bold dust jacket will help when the book hits the shelves. Audio rights sold to Brilliance.