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Hollywood Station: A Novel Hardcover – November 28, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 188 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Hollywood Station Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Wambaugh, awarded the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award in 2004, returns to the crazed world of the LAPD for the first time since his 1983 novel, The Delta Star. It is a triumphant return. Not only does Wambaugh give readers his usual feast of black humor, as well as deliver another cast of edgy LAPD cops and wacko denizens of the street, but he also portrays how life for L.A. cops has changed in the last 20 years. The novel is both a celebration of street cops and an elegy for the old LAPD, now hobbled by post-Rodney King federal receivership, Draconian PC codes, oversight armies, and severe manpower and equipment shortages (Michael Connelly covers some of this same ground). The setting, Hollywood Station, also serves as a symbol for the collision of cops and criminals. For example, the stars on the Walk of Fame in front of Graumann's Chinese Theater are overrun by costumed cartoon characters who are actually addicts and whores; the stars in front of Hollywood Station are modeled after the stars on the Walk of Fame, but these stars contain the names of seven officers from Hollywood Station, all killed in the line of duty. The plot careens between cops and criminals, as seemingly random acts of desperation by a group of meth burnouts tie into a Russian criminal mastermind's scheme. High-voltage suspense drives the tale, and as always, Wambaugh's characters, language, and war stories exude authenticity. Terrific. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (November 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316066141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316066143
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on December 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Under the watchful eye of the Sergeant they call the Oracle, the members of Hollywood Station go forth each day to protect and serve the diverse population of Hollywood, never knowing what the day will bring.

One shift, they might have to referee a dispute between Spider-Man and Batman. On another, they might stumble upon a robbery scene where a bound and gagged victim is nervously squeezing a live grenade between his legs in an effort to keep it from going off. On yet another shift, one of their number might be severely beaten at the end of an otherwise quiet sting operation. Despite the uncertainty they face, they do it day after day, year in and year out.

Rich in colorful incident, at times laugh out loud funny, at times achingly poignant, Hollywood Station marks the triumphant return of Joseph Wambaugh to the police procedural. Portraying a police department under fire from within and without, Wambaugh gives the reader insights into the people who do this often thankless job; his cops are tired, and grouchy, and quick tempered, but above all, they're human, dealing with high pressure situations on a daily basis, always subject to surprise. Eschewing political correctness in his search for the truth, Wambaugh emphasizes that humanity in all its glory and tragedy, producing one of the most memorable books of 2006, a worthy successor to previous classics like The Blue Knight and The Choirboys. As the estimable Ray Bradbury says in his blurb, "Bravo."
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One word: wow! Wambaugh is back - big time. A stripped down masterpiece of what it means to "protect and serve" in post-Rodney King LA, rendered with the passion and conviction that only an ex-cop like Wambaugh could muster. "Hollywood Station" will make you laugh, the petty politics and bureaucratic meddling will frustrate you, the heroics and camaraderie of understaffed and overworked street cops will make you proud, but most of all, the tales of "Hollyweird's" sleaze, glitz, crime and justice will keep the pages turning at the pace of high speed chase.

The plot spins loosely around the hand grenade-robbery of a jewelry store by Russian mobsters and the antics of a pair of burned out meth freaks, Farley and "Olive Oyl" Ramsdale. But the plot is only a convenient backdrop for Wambaugh to showcase a colorful collection of characters on both sides of the law. Told through a "Hill Street Blues-like" series of vignettes of the patrolmen and women of LA's Hollywood station, the legendary station sergeant, "the Oracle", dispenses wisdom honed by over forty years on LA's mean streets, playing mom, dad, coach and priest to his young troopers. But seemingly disconnected storylines weave together in time for a slick and satisfying conclusion, complete with a neat and unexpected little twist. Reading Wambaugh again after such a long hiatus reminds me that the popular crime writers of today - Connelly, Lehane, Crais - are beholden to Wambaugh much like "Flotsam and Jetsam", "Hollywood" Nate Weiss, Budgie Polk, and the other fictional officers to Hollywood station are in debt to "the Oracle." Gritty and realistic, this long awaited return was worth every minute, a heartfelt and poignant tribute to LAPD's finest. As the Oracle would say, "go on out tonight and have some fun," and read this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As I began reading HOLLYWOOD STATION, I couldn't help but be reminded of Ed McBain. The similarities are countless. McBain invented the police procedural. McBain also relied on multiple story lines as each of his detectives worked on separate cases. McBain worked in social issues occasionally. They were both masters of characterization with characters who jumped off the page. The main resemblance, however, is the humor both authors employ. I found myself laughing out loud while reading The 87th Precinct series, and Wambaugh is a close second.

Wambaugh hasn't written a police procedural since THE FLOATERS, and I was worried he wouldn't be as good as I remembered. Never fear; Wambaugh hasn't lost a step. The main thread of the story deals with "tweakers," people who are addicted to methamphetamines. Farley Ramsdale and his girlfriend Olive steal mail from mailboxes and sell it to the Russian mafia. This, in turn, leads to a jewelry store robbery and an armored car hold-up. Wambaugh's collection of blue shirts begin to investigate. There is the Oracle, a sergeant with over forty years experience on the force; there are two surfer cops, nicknamed Flotsam and Jetsam; there's Fausto Gambino, another old-time copper who's been teamed with a woman who's just had a baby; there's Hollywood Nate, who seems to care more about getting stand-in jobs in the movies and television than he does police work; there's even a Russian-American cop, Viktor Chernenko, who's called in to deal with the Russian mafia.

Thematically Wambaugh deals with the increasing state and federal interference in police work since the Rodney King incident. The cops even file false reports to deal with the ban against profiling. The coppers list white people they've stopped who don't exist.
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Format: Hardcover
Thank You Mr. Wambaugh for coming home! You've been missed.

The sign of a great novelist is to make the fantasy real. To involve the reader in a world where fantasy merges into reality in such a way that the reader has empathy for the characters. Mr. Wambaugh does this in Spades with Hollywood Station. Humor, grit, sadness, and euphoria all erupt on the pages of this in the "belly of the beast" police novel. Plot is tight and quick moving. Street dialog is gritty and as real as it gets. Character development is good and I hope some of the actors return to reprise their roles. All in all the book grabs you from page one, gets in your face, and finally lets you go in the last sentence.

No gratuitous violence or sexual scenes. Just a good story about what it is like to be a cop in Hollywood. "Hey dude get you board and let's go!"

If you like Connelly then Wambaugh is your man. Highly recommended.
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