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The Golden Orange Paperback – May 1, 1991

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (May 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553290266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553290264
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,004,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this comic and deeply moving story, Wambaugh holds the reader a willing hostage to events in the bibulous, rowdy, daring life of Winston (Winnie) Farlowe. When an injury ends his police career in California's Orange County, Winnie works at odd jobs--and indulges in vodka-inspired pranks. On probation after his latest escapade, the anti-hero avoids the place where prudence might have led him, an AA meeting, and instead rushes to join drinking buddies at a favorite saloon. There Tess Binder, an alluring divorcee, seeks the notorious ex-cop; she wines him, dines him and takes him to bed. Although both lovers are in their 40s, and survivors of broken unions, Tess belongs to a world as foreign to Winnie's as Tibet: the Newport Harbor's ultra-rich yachting crowd. The poor guy can't believe his luck, but trusts in his lady's ardent love, never suspecting the scam she plans for Win nie him as she holds him in thrall. The action quickens, rushing to a stupendous climax that concludes a novel virtually sure to be hailed as Wambaugh's best. BOMC alternate; first serial to Los Angeles Magazine.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"[Wambaugh's] laserlike descriptions of Orange  County are worth the price of  admission."--The New York Times Book Review

More About the Author

Joseph Wambaugh, a former LAPD detective sergeant, is the bestselling author of eighteen prior works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Choirboys and The Onion Field. Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times' said, "Joseph Wambaugh is one of those Los Angeles authors whose popular success always has overshadowed his importance as a writer. Wambaugh is an important writer not simply because he's ambitious and technically accomplished, but also because he 'owns' a critical slice of L.A.'s literary real estate: the Los Angeles Police Department -- not just its inner workings, but also its relationship to the city's political establishment and to its intricately enmeshed social classes. There is no other American metropolis whose civic history is so inextricably intertwined with the history of its police department. That alone would make Wambaugh's work significant, but the importance of his best fiction and nonfiction is amplified by his unequaled ability to capture the nuances of the LAPD's isolated and essentially Hobbesian tribal culture."
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. Wambaugh still prefers the company of police officers and interviews hundreds of them for story material. However, he is aghast that these days most of the young cops drink iced tea or light beer, both of which he finds exceedingly vile, causing him to obsessively fume with Hamlet that, 'The time is out of joint.' He expects to die in a road rage encounter. For more information please visit or

Customer Reviews

Real fun and twisted.
Omega Man
Well into the book, the plot finally slowly starts to develop before it is rushed to an end that is very predictable.
The lead characters were very well sketched out and very believable.
J. Robert Ewbank

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Slokes VINE VOICE on September 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Sometimes a book takes a sudden twist that knocks you for a loop. Other times, you find yourself reading a book where you have a pretty good idea what the twist is going to be, only you keep reading because you care so much about the central character you hope you're wrong. The second kind is more impressive to me, and "The Golden Orange" is a perfect example of it.

Joseph Wambaugh's 1990 novel focuses on a boozy ex-cop's love affair with a beautiful society girl on the coast of Newport Beach in Orange County, California. Maybe that's why people are down on it; it's more Raymond Chandler than Ed McBain. Yet I can't help loving "The Golden Orange," one of the most humorous and emotionally compelling novels I have ever read.

There isn't anything here to surprise film noir enthusiasts, though this is much different in tone and story. With his masterly sense of characterization, Wambaugh starts off putting the reader in the shoes of Winnie Farlowe, a hard-drinking 40-year-old forced off the local police because of injury. Adrift, wishing he could return to a job where he mattered, he wastes his small pension drowning his sorrows in one of the few cheap dives in Orange County, occasionally getting a peek at the well-heeled around him.

Winnie's a hard guy not to like, with his sardonic yet humble manner. Told he is ingenuous, Winnie asks: "Is that like ingenious? I used to be ingenious sometimes. Working on homicide gave me ingenious moments." He's so straight up he pays child support for his ex-wife's kids because he adopted them during the marriage. The only thing he's not straight up about is his drinking: "I'm not an alcoholic. I jist shouldn't drink rum!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark Bando on September 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
As one who has read about six of Wambaugh's books, I don't understand those who gave weak reviews to this book. In fact if I'd never read
any of his other work, I'd still feel strongly that this one stands on its own. It 'is what it is' as they say and I found it hard to put-down (a rare circumstance for me, when reading fiction) after discovering this book at a church rummage sale, in September, 2008.
As a retired policeman myself (25 years Detroit PD) and a published author (7 titles-check Mark A. Bando on, I suspect that I may be somewhat biased toward stories dealing with retired police officers. However, I believe that any male reader who is dealing with middle age, retirement and looming senior citizenship, could relate to the mysteries of life that Mr. Wambaugh forces us to examine and ponder as this tale unfolds.
He has skillfuly woven the plot and well-developed characters together to make this book a masterpiece in my estimation. It is possible that cops more than the average guy, ponder questions of human behavior and life more relentlessly than the average non-police person. The never- ending quest to discover life's 'meaning' (what's it all about?) and the motivations behind cruel/damaging human behavior are the mysteries examined, but never answered in this book. I like this about the book as well, because these questions are daily puzzled-over by millions, yet seldom discussed or illuminated in any public venue.

Indeed Wambaugh realizes that we can never know the answers, but instead we are left to ponder with jaw-dropping amazement, how deeply personal betrayal can be justified by some individuals, in the greedy quest for materialistic gain.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joseph C. Petrillo on April 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
In reading the previous reviews, I think this book has not been given it's due. I have read the book several times for the humor found within it. I have been a police officer for 26 years and found The Golden Orange to be full of police humor from the first chapter to the last. The lead character leads the life of a pentioned out officer who is constently battling his past using alcohol and levety to ease that past. Wambaugh molds every character into ones we can all relate to. The police characters are no doubt taken from Wambaugh's experience as police officer from the synical old timers to the optomistic green rookies. There are FEW books I would recommend as highly as this one for action, mystery and real belly laughs. I only wish he had 100 more like it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By JMack VINE VOICE on September 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As other reviewers have pointed out, this novel would have never been published if it was not written by a writer with an established fan base. It seems that Joseph Wambaugh is either hit or miss in terms of the quality of his fiction. "The Golden Orange" is a big miss.

I almost stopped reading the book in the first hundred pages. But like an accident on the highway, I wanted to see how bad it would get. The first half of the book is largely a romance novel of middle aged people with bad track records. Aside from hints of the plot, nothing really happens. Well into the book, the plot finally slowly starts to develop before it is rushed to an end that is very predictable.

The characters are generally unlikeable. The main character Winnie is hard to like when he is a repeated loser and a drunk. He is like the male friend that marries the bad woman despite the advice of his friends. So when he falls into the latest trap(s), it is hard to feel sorry for him.

Amateur writers forged better efforts than this in community college creative writing classes. There was some potential for a good novel here, but Joseph Wambaugh could not find it.
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