In Hollywood Moon, veteran author Joseph Wambaugh weaves together several seemingly unrelated vignettes for a darkly comic, gritty look at street cops and identity thieves in Los Angeles. In the last of his trilogy chronicling a Hollywood police station, Wambaugh balances absurd situations with the horrible behavior of people who have little regard for others. But each scene — whether outlandish or poignant — has a sense of authenticity. Wambaugh's keen sense of life on the streets permeates Hollywood Moon.
The cops are a mixed bag who, despite their quirks, are united in their respect for their job. Surfer cops Flotsam and Jetsam know the ocean as well as they do the streets; they can carry on a conversation in surfer-speak while collaring a suspect. Nate "Hollywood" Weiss would rather be in films but has found his greatest acting role as a cop. Wambaugh takes special care with his female cops — Dana Vaughn, Sheila Montez, Mindy Lang and Sgt. Miriam Hermann — to show how they cope with sexism among their colleagues and the criminals they come in contact with.
The myriad scenarios eventually come together in a plot about a credit card scam run by a husband and wife — domineering Eunice and her scheming spouse, Dewey Gleason. Dewey uses the various teams of scam artists he employs as a chance to hone his acting skills, appearing as a different person to each set of criminals. Dewey's management skills begin to slip when two of his meth-addicted employees decide they want more money. Dewey and Eunice's enterprise takes another turn when he decides to bring in Malcolm Rojas, a teenager whose good looks help him cover up his seething anger.
Wambaugh pulls together Hollywood Moon's nonlinear plot in a believable story that also packs an emotional wallop at its finale. In his 19th novel, Wambaugh continues to show how the job of being a cop affects each aspect of an officer's life, a track he has followed since The New Centurions in 1971.