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Harbor Nocturne Hardcover – April 3, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 289 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Joseph Wambaugh has been one of those necessary voices through the years—sometimes angry, sometimes illuminating, often wise, always funny and fascinating—and without him, the lives of many readers would be smaller. Including mine.” –Stephen King

“Joseph Wambaugh took crime fiction to a whole new level, to something beyond classification. These are stories with depth of character and humor and a cold, hard honesty that rings true with every read. I'm one of the few lucky enough to have already read a copy of Harbor Nocturne. It's Wambaugh at his best!” —Michael Connelly

“Highly entertaining… Razor-edged dialogue punctuates the vignette-filled plot. Realistic criminals are well matched by Wambaugh’s equally authentic police…in this darkly comic, gritty look at life on the streets.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Wambaugh embeds the stories he hears from cops within fiercely and ingeniously plotted mysteries…A very fast ride-along, enlivened by cop gallows humor, snarky
street altercations, and an insistent pull to the dark side.” –Booklist (starred review)

“The sideshow acts Wambaugh presents mix legal justice and rough justice, laughter and tears, so inventively that it’s hard to tell until the very end who’ll come out on top.” –Kirkus Reviews

“The legendary Wambaugh's newest is chock-full of his trademark cop talk and offbeat side vignettes. His ability to weave a complex story together out of seemingly disparate elements lightens up some of the grittiness of big city police work.” –Library Journal

About the Author

Joseph Wambaugh is the #1 bestselling author of eighteen prior works of fiction and nonfiction, including The New Centurions, The Choirboys and The Onion Field. He lives in Southern California.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press; First Edition edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802126103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802126108
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paper or Kindle TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Joseph Wambaugh since his first book. I thought his non-fiction was brilliant and was sorry that a messy court case made him decide to stick to fiction. I also thought his fiction was terrific: the early books are filled with gritty humor and deep passion; the middle books showed all sorts of growth as a writer trying different techniques; and in the past decade or so, he switched to writing a fictional series with recurring characters. I'm not sure whether he became tired of creating new worlds or wanted more depth in an established one, but the level of passion has declined even as the writing became smoother. I'm not knocking that at all, but for someone who has never tried Wambaugh in his prime, they might get the wrong idea from this novel. "Harbor Nocturne" is a (relatively) quiet book. Yes, the kooky characters are here, as well as the bizarre anecdotes that pile up to form the backdrop for the plot. Yes, the setting becomes a character itself. But there's a depressive level that leaves the reader with a sad taste, and less of the passion of earlier writing. I don't mean sexual passion, I mean the heartfelt energy of the characters. They all seem just a little tired. There are a few lazy short-cuts as well. In earlier books, such as "The Black Marble", the author was able to provide lots of background on the Russian community in a seamless and unobtrusive way. In "Harbor Nocturne", right away a single character provides a literal travelogue to explain the entire Port of Los Angeles, Croatian work history and Mexican immigration. It is neither seamless nor unobtrusive. However, Wambaugh, even when he is not at his best, is better than almost anyone else.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am rarely at a loss for words, but I really don't know what to say about Joseph Wambaugh's Harbor Nocturn. Here is an author who resides consistently on the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. His storytelling art is without question. Yet this book started out so very s-l-o-w-l-y for me.

Wambaugh has written a suspense tale that was not an easy read. I could see the tragedy that was in the making but the surprise ending tripped me up. I never saw it coming! But oh, it took so long to get into this novel!

Wambaugh is clearly a masterful storyteller who causes you to care about his characters. In retrospect, I can see that I stuck with the book through its early sections only because Wambaugh is such a superb storyteller. Had he been otherwise I fear that I would have put the book away early on and would have been deprived of what turned out to be a rewarding novel.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Harbor Nocturne is author Joseph Wambaugh's 16th novel. (He also has several non-ficton books.) It is the first novel of his that I have read. My reading list just got a whole lot longer.

From the moment I began reading, I felt that this was a unique style of writing ... a style whose only analog I can find is Nathaniel Hawthorne or Victor Hugo. Now, what in the world does this mean? When I have read works by Hawthorne or Hugo, I felt that I was going to, perhaps, some dark places of human experience, but that I was being guided by a wise, compassionate, and competent hand. I felt that maybe I would read of bad things, but that I would be safe through it all.

As I continued to read Harbor Nocturne, that feeling only continued. The places we went, frankly, could have been a whole lot darker. Wambaugh's style is a wry irony, a gentle touch, an almost report-like presentation. We don't need emotionalism and preachiness as we look into the worlds of human trafficking, prostitution, and amputation fetish. And we don't get them.

With minimal prose, Wambaugh creates characters so real, I could hear their voices as I read ... could see the stubble on their chins, the sun-bleached streaked hair ... could feel the ocean breeze of San Pedro and hear the accented voices of its people going about their activities. Dinko, the longshoreman stoner who finds love; Markov, the icy cold Serb thug who only plays a Russian cause they're the "in" crowd; Hector, the mullet wielding weasel whose bad choices cost just a life or two; and the real stars of the show (in a most underplayed way) ... the beat coppers of Hollywood Station. Of all the wonderful things Wambaugh has done in this book, weaving the mid-watch roll calls and service calls through the main plot is a masterful touch.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I count this Wambaugh's fifth ride of the LAPD blue holding down the Hollywood station, and I've got to report that this fine series from the talented Wambaugh is beginning to feel just a bit tired.

While most of the familiar faces from the series are back - notably surfer-cops Flotsam and Jetsam, Hollywood Nate and his now gunslinger partner Britney Small - the story is set in LA's southern most part, the bustling port of San Pedro. Dinko Babich is a young and listless longshoreman of Croatian roots, living with his widowed mom and bemoaning San Pedro's ethic shift from Italian/Croat to Hispanic/black. While on a 30 day suspension for drug usage, Dinko runs into his old high school buddy Hector Cuzzo, now a low level thug trying to project an image of living large, while in reality a glorified errand boy for second rate strip joints and the Eastern European and Korean gangsters who run them. Through Hector, Dinko meets Lita Medina Flores, a beautiful 19 year old Mexican dancer smuggled across the border to entertain in the clubs where Cuzzo is employed. But a shipping container with 13 dead Thai's is discovered and Lita, fearing she knows too much, is taken home for protection by the naïve and love-smitten Dinko. Dinko's traditional mother, aghast at first, finds herself falling for Lita's innocence and charm, soon forming an inseparable threesome. Meanwhile, Hollywood station's midwatch ventures out each evening to keep the panhandlers on Hollywood Boulevard in check, and Flotsam and a one-footed Jetsam try their hand at undercover work with vice to try and break up a prostitution ring, all wrapped around sundry tales of domestic abuse, bizarre sexual perversions, and even a gypsy curse.
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