Friday, November 28, 2008

Hollywood Crows - Joseph Wambaugh


Hollywood Crows
Joseph Wambaugh
Little, Brown and Company

Mystery/Police Procedural

This follow-up to HOLLYWOOD STATION picks up the lives of various Hollywood police officers and the daily insanity that comprises their working lives. The Crows are the Community Relations Officers. They take calls about anything that has to do with the community’s “quality of life,” and run outreach meetings for every conceivable group, sometimes spending more time in meeting rooms than on the streets.

Ali Aziz runs the Leopard Lounge, a topless dance club, in the area. He’s currently involved in the most bitter of custody battles with his ex-wife and ex-dancer, Margot, for their son. Both Ali and Margot have plans to end that dispute, and the Hollywood cops are going to be in the middle of it no matter which way it shakes out.

The Ali/Margot situation provides the lynchpin of this novel, but most of it is devoted to the bizarre situations that could only happen in Hollywood. The cops are a wildly-varied bunch, but each one of them seems realistic. From the surfer dude cops, Flotsam and Jetsam, to Hollywood Nate – who desperately wants to make it in the movies – they have have distinct personalities and histories.

It’s crystal clear that the author knows whereof he writes. The stress and frustration of cops on the job is palpable. The federal consent decree has all but tied their hands, the media is ready to pounce on any perceived infraction; I can’t imagine the level of anxiety that creates for a group of people who put their lives in danger to protect the public. Every comedic moment here is leavened by the harsh truth: life isn’t fair, and there may not be a happy ending.

Rating: 8
May 2008
ISBN# 978-0-316-02528-7 (hardcover)

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