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.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Thirty-five years after the debut of The New Centurions, the grand master of cop fiction is back with another inside look at life in the Los Angeles Police Department. But whereas Wambaugh used the 1965 Watts riots as the backdrop to Centurions, here he chooses post-Rodney King Los Angeles to present a new set of challenges to today's Los Angeles cops. Handcuffed by a paranoid, stifling bureaucracy, Wambaugh's police characters are deeply flawed but intensely devoted to protect and serve the citizens of America's second-largest city. Holding the troops of Hollywood Station together is the Oracle, a sergeant who has been on the force for almost 50 years. Wambaugh removes the layers from the street-tough cops and exposes their unique blend of bravado and fallibility, but he has proven to be equally adept at examining the psyche of tweakers, scammers, pimps, and murderers. The realities of police work aren't glamorous, even in a precinct straddled by the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It's been more than 20 years since Wambaugh's last LAPD novel; let's hope the next one doesn't take as long. Recommended for all fiction collections. Ken Bolton, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.