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Review: In 'Hollywood Moon,' Joseph Wambaugh weaves an end to his Hollywood police station trilogy

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.


Hollywood Moon

By Joseph Wambaugh

Little, Brown, 352 pages, $26.99

Review: In 'Hollywood Moon,' Joseph Wambaugh weaves an end to his Hollywood police station trilogy 12/05/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 5, 2009 3:30am]
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