2 from Joseph Wambaugh this week. Wambaugh had his first book published in 1970 when I was 6 or 7 years old and he still seems to be going strong – the fifth book in his Hollywood Station series was out back in 2012.
Wambaugh writes about cops mainly, perhaps unsurprisingly as he used to be one.
Understandably, then, Wambaugh, who lives in California, is known as the "cop-author" with emphasis on the former, since, according to him, most of his fantasies involve the arrest and prosecution of half of California's motorists.
I've read a couple from him, but not for a few years now. Probably fair to say I have most of his 20 plus books on the shelves - 13 at last count, but I don't believe I'm done yet. (20 tubs to go!)
Time to read him.
The Glitter Dome (1981)
It's the wildest bar in Chinatown, run by a proprietor named Wing who will steal your bar change every chance he gets. On payday the groupies mingle there with off-duty LAPD cops, including homicide detectives Martin Welborn and Al Mackey, who get assigned the case of a murdered Hollywood studio boss who may have been involved in some very strange and dangerous filmmaking. Hilarious at times, heartbreaking at others, this book was likened by the New York Daily News to a 'one-two combination that leaves the reader reeling.'
Who else but Joseph Wambaugh could write "a joy, a hoot, a riot of a book" that is also acclaimed as "one of this season's best crime novels"? That's how The New York Times Book Review and Time, respectively, described his last novel, Finnegan's Week. Nobody writes a faster, funnier, more satisfying tale of cops and criminals, the high life and lowlifes that Wambaugh--and Floaters is his sharpest yet.
Mick Fortney and his partner Leeds manage to cruise above the standard police stress-pools of coffee and Pepto-Bismol--they're water cops in the "Club Harbour Unit," manning a patrol boat on San Diego's Mission Bay. A typically rough day's detail consists of scoping out body-sculpted beauties on pleasure craft, rescuing boating bozos who've run aground, jeering at lifeguards, and hauling in the occasional floater who comes to the surface.
But now their days are anything but typical, because the America's Cup international sailing regattas have come to town and suddenly San Diego is swarming with yacht crazies of every nationality, the cuppies who want to love them, and the looky-look tourists, racing spies, scam artists, and hookers who all want their piece of the action. It's the outstanding body and jaunty smile--full of mischief, full of hell--of one cuppie, a particularly fiery redhead named Blaze, that gets Leeds and Fortney's attention. First Leeds drowns in frustratingly unrequited boozy love from afar. Then, with her increasingly odd behaviour, Blaze tweaks every one of their cop instincts, alerting them that something's not quite right on the waterfront.
Indeed, Blaze will soon lead Detective Anne Zorn and Mick Fortney along a bizarre criminal trail that would be hilarious if it didn't wind up just as nasty as it gets, with a pair of murders right on the eve of the biggest sailing race of all.
Filled with all of Joseph Wambaugh's trademark skills--laugh-out-loud writing, crackling dialogue, outrageous excitement, and, of course, plenty of raunchy veteran cops who leap off the page--Floaters is Wambaugh at the very top of his form.