The legendary Hollywood Hills are home to wealth, fame, and power–passing through the neighborhood, it’s hard not to get a little greedy.
LAPD veteran “Hollywood Nate” Weiss could take or leave the opulence, but he wouldn’t say no to onscreen fame. He may get his shot when he catches the appreciative eye of B-list director Rudy Ressler, and his troublemaking fiancée, Leona Brueger, the older-but-still-foxy widow of a processed-meat tycoon. Nate tries to elude her crafty seductions, but consents to keep an eye on their estate in the Hollywood Hills while they’re away.
Also minding the mansion is Raleigh Dibble, a hapless ex-con trying to put the past behind him. Raleigh is all too happy to be set up for the job–as butler-cum-watchdog–by Nigel Wickland, Leona’s impeccably dressed art dealer. What Raleigh doesn’t realize is that under the natty clothes and posh accent, Nigel has a nefarious plan: two paintings hanging on the mansion’s walls will guarantee them more money than they’ve ever seen.
Everyone’s dreams are just within reach–the only problem is, this is Hollywood. A circle of teenage burglars that the media has dubbed The Bling Ring has taken to pillaging the homes of Hollywood celebutants like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, and when a pair of drug-addled young copycats stumbles upon Nigel’s heist, that’s just the beginning of the disaster to come. Soon Hollywood Nate, surfer cops Flotsam and Jetsam, and the rest of the team at Hollywood Station have a deadly situation on their hands.
Hollywood Hills is a raucous and dangerous roller coaster ride that showcases Joseph Wambaugh in vintage form.
“The LAPD’s Hollywood Station deals with some of the strangest lawbreakers anywhere, as shown in MWA Grand Master Wambaugh’s amusing fourth novel to feature Hollywood Nate Weiss, surfer cops Flotsam and Jetsam, and the rest of the series’ colorful police crew…. [a] deliciously convoluted caper.” (Publishers Weekly )
“good news for fans of the Hollywood Station trilogy that was supposed to have ended with Hollywood Moon. Now here comes Hollywood Hills, extending another golden opportunity to ride with the uniformed crew at what must be the most colorful cop-shop under the sun…. Wambaugh salts the narrative with variously funny, sad and thoughtful anecdotes featuring a cast of characters we’ve come to treasure: handsome Hollywood Nate, the surfer cops Flotsam and Jetsam, and veterans like Viv Daley and Della Ravelle, burned by experience, but conscientiously training the next generation to face the fire.” (New York Times Book Review Marilyn Stasio )
“If Los Angeles police detective-sergeant-turned-author Joseph Wambaugh didn’t invent the modern cop novel, he’s been one of its most prolific and successful practitioners…. Dark slapstick–with rimshot dialogue worthy of Jay Leno–often ensues when these police officers cross paths with eccentric Hollywood-dwellers. But there’s nothing comical about the murder and mayhem lurking behind the palm trees…. Yet one way or another these enforcers of the law–like their author–continue to get the job done.” (Wall Street Journal Tom Nolan )
“Joseph Wambaugh’s Hollywood series was supposed to be a trilogy. Good news for readers that he changed his mind. His take on the Hollywood cop shop is colorful…these characters fighting crime are not to be missed. Neither are the criminals they pursue…. And in addition to stupid criminals, there are some gut-wrenching, psychologically difficult criminal interludes that remind the reader that for all the stupid wrongdoers who find their reward, there are also innocent victims, and these victims take their own kind of toll. Wambaugh mixes the light and the dark in a unique way. Hollywood Hills is a keeper…. The book should be satisfying to those familiar with the series, and a tantalizing starting point for those who are not.” (The Denver Post Robin Vidimos )
There are sparks of vintage Wambaugh in Hollywood Hills, the wry, sometimes poignant observations that gave his early work its authentic cache. Wambaugh made his bones in The New Centurions and The Onion Field, his later years inspiring a blend of humor, absurdity and real cop lore. I haven’t been fond of the Hollywood series, often too stereotypical, but in this novel the particular camaraderie of law enforcement is a strong element in the plot. Familiar characters return, “Hollywood Nate” Weiss, Flotsam and Jetsam, the surfer cops, but with less absurdity and more of the in-your-face drama of the streets, the split-second decisions and bizarre threats arising from even the most innocent request for help from authorities.
Underneath the daily role calls, the crazy antics of a “Hollywood Moon” and the unpredictable residents of the city, the cops of Hollywood Division go on their nightly rounds prepared for any outrageous situation that comes over the radio. Hollywood Nate is temporarily paired with Lorenzo “Snuffy” Salcedo, Nate yet to realize his dreams of stardom in spite of the SAG card he carries in his wallet. A meeting with a B-list director, Rudy Ressler, offers an intimate encounter with the surgically-enhanced widow, Leona Brueger (shades of “Sunset Boulevard”), but the usual petty criminals and tweakers are busy ruining their lives and endangering citizens, including Jonas Claymore, who is obsessed with the Bling Ring and Nigel Wickland, an art dealer with a scheme to profit from the wealthy Widow Brueger’s upcoming tour of Tuscany.
Various partners patrol the streets as their radios squawk, including a veteran female officer instructing a younger trainee on the hazards of being a woman in law enforcement and the surfer cops affectionately dubbed Flotsam and Jetsam, their tours accompanied by a language honed on the beaches of Southern California. Everything that can go wrong does, in a mad collision of coincidence and mendacity that leaves two men dead, fruit of the greedy impulses of those who yearn for a place in a city touched with magic, but only for a few. The gold of Hollywood’s younger days is tarnished by broken dreams and no-talent clones, but fools continue to flock to the Mecca of celebrity, where Wambaugh’s boys in blue acquit themselves with panache and humor in an ugly, often sad landscape. Luan Gaines/2010.
Joseph Wambaugh’s latest: Loopy theatrics and lyrical language
The Washington Post Book Review – December 13, 2010 (Excerpt)
What fun it is to read Joseph Wambaugh! His Hollywood Station police procedurals – peppered with the requisite gunshots and groin kicks, sleaze and sunshine – are word-drunk wonders. If James Joyce had imagined “Finnegans Wake” as a crime story (hmmm, not a bad idea since plot was never Joyce’s strong suit), it might have turned out something like Wambaugh’s latest suspense story, “Hollywood Hills.”
Take this bit of nonsense verse lobbed between two of Wambaugh’s cops, a duo nicknamed Flotsam and Jetsam, who are standing on Malibu Beach, where a photo shoot is taking place. The shoot features a thonged female model flanked by two male models ineptly posing as surfers. The hipster cops are sneering at the two faux surfers:
” ‘I’m all dialed in to see what happens if the pair of rainbow donks actually hit the briny on their unwaxed legs.’ … [Read the full article...]