I have to admit that Wambaugh's subsequent books (with the exception of The Onion Field) have been major disappointments. Perhaps that is because this, his first novel, is such a wonderful and complete book. Everything else seems to be a valient yet failed effort to recapture to wonder and confusion of this bristling masterwork. It deals with the trials, triupmhs and personal failures of three young cops, the now stock characters of the confused kid, the inept failure trying to make something out of himself and the brainy, yet physically weak intellectual who tries to out smart every situation. It takes them from academy training up through the Watts riots of 1965. The characters are real, innately believable and sympathetic and abhorrent and cruel. I loved this book. With the exception of the brutal novels of James Ellroy, there is no better "cop" fiction available, and it is infinately more realistic than Ellroy's work because we get the sense that Wambaugh truly was there at these events, that he honestly understand s what it is like to be young and scared with a gun and a badge when the whole world is falling apart. It took about four or five books before Wambaugh became just another second rate crime novelist. This is the finest of his almost true-crime fiction. Likely you will burn through this absorbing novel in the shortest time possible. Compelling, funny, action-packed and sad, this is a wonderful book that, within its ever growing sub-genre, will likely never be equaled.