Like many of today's best novelists, Stephen J. Cannell has a political agenda to exploit in telling his story. Many people don't yet realize that the Patriot Act provides the kind of unlimited government powers that the 13 original colonials decided to separate from by revolution. If you put enough arrogant people in place who don't know what they are doing, the results can be pretty distressing. That's the major message of this book.
If you are looking for a police procedural, you'll find this story mainly interesting for its development of two key characters, Shane Scully and his partner, by the actions they take (or don't take). You'll feel like both characters are interesting and that what they do mostly rings true. For the rest of the characters, it's mostly card board and cameo roles. The investigation is severely compromised from the beginning by press interest, political pressure and police bureaucracy. Many of the "breaks" in the case seem a little dubious in terms of their probabilities.
If you are like me, you'll think that a "cold hit" is an assassination done for money (or something like that). In police parlance, a cold hit is an identification of a weapon used in two separate crimes . . . separated by some time. The ballistics evidence in this case gradually points the investigation in the right direction.
I found the plot development to be noteworthy in a couple of ways. First, Scully is allowed to be a human being . . . with weaknesses, mistakes, distractions and other limitations. Second, we get to find out what he's like outside of work.
I'm not sure that the plot complication of having Scully ultimately working for his wife is credible and valuable for story-telling, but you have to admit that it's an unusual approach.
Ultimately, the book succeeds because Mr. Cannell is a solid story teller who knows how to get our attention with unexpected events and confrontations that move the plot along at an ever stronger pace.