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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 43.
- Review Date: 2006-09-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Wambaugh's outstanding new novel, his first in a decade, is not only a return to form but a return to his LAPD roots. Times have sure changed since the 1970s, the setting for some of Wambaugh's best earlier works such as The New Centurions and The Onion Field. Grossly understaffed, the officers of Hollywood Station find themselves writing bogus field interviews with nonexistent white suspects in minority neighborhoods to avoid allegations of racial profiling. Crystal meth rules the streets, and crackheads and glass freaks dressed in costume (Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Darth Vader, Elmo) work the tourist strip, bumming money for their next fix. With an impressive array of police characters, from surfer dude partners "Flotsam" and "Jetsam" to aspiring actor "Hollywood" Nate Weiss and single mother Budgie Polk, Wambaugh creates a realistic microcosm of the modern-day LAPD. Today's crop of crime writers, including Michael Connelly and George Pelecanos, obviously owe a debt to Wambaugh. The master proves that he can still deliver. 5-city author tour. (Nov.)
At long last, Joseph Wambaugh fans have cause for celebration, with the release of Hollywood Station, his first LAPD novel in years. As usual, his cops are something of a motley crew: a pair of surfers known to their compadres as Flotsam and Jetsam; a decorated veteran known simply as The Oracle; a wannabe actor who serves as police liaison for the film industry; and a pair of plucky female cops who utilize their not-inconsiderable charm to ensnare sexual predators on the streets of Tinseltown. Although there is a story to Hollywood Station (sort of), the action is really episodic, along the lines of television shows such as "Hill Street Blues." There are lots of characters, and they change partners more often than square dancers, but individual storylines overlap and lead inevitably to the resolution of the book's one major crime. Wambaugh is in top writing form, crisp and irreverent, displaying superb plot development and quirky yet believable characterizations. The author spent many years as a police detective, and it certainly shows in his mastery of the day-to-day details of police work. A favorite of both critics and fans, Wambaugh is a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America.