Books by Joseph Wambaugh

HARBOR NOCTURNE by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: April 10, 2012

"A welcome recovery from the middling Hollywood Hills (2010), with enough juice for one wild miniseries."
The harbor district of San Pedro turns out to be just as jam-packed with dangerous criminals, clueless cops and variously complicit citizens as anywhere else in Wambaugh's storied Hollywood Division. Read full book review >
HOLLYWOOD HILLS by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: Nov. 16, 2010

"Though everything takes forever to happen, the laughs are authentic, and a couple of endearing heroes emerge. A middling entry in this waggish series."
Wambaugh's Hollywood trilogy (Hollywood Moon, 2009, etc.) sprouts a fourth volume, another offbeat mix of broadly satirical comedy and a cast of cops apparently waiting for a procedural that never kicks in. Read full book review >
HOLLYWOOD MOON by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: Nov. 24, 2009

"Well below Wambaugh's customary high standard."
A police procedural coexists with the story of an identity-theft operation in this follow-up to Hollywood Station (2006) and Hollywood Crows (2008). Read full book review >
HOLLYWOOD STATION by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: Nov. 28, 2006

"Former LAPD detective Wambaugh returns to his roots for a hilarious review of today's police force."
Wambaugh's pleasing new police procedural (Floaters, 1996, etc.) is a series of comic vignettes featuring a particularly idiosyncratic and beleaguered division of the LAPD—the Hollywood Station. Read full book review >
FLOATERS by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: June 1, 1996

"But his cop raunch, while amusing, has begun to pale."
Fun-loving cop-novelist Wambaugh (Finnegan's Week, 1993, etc.) centers his latest San Diego police procedural around the international America's Cup regatta off Mission Bay and, as ever, comes up with a taut tale larded with raunchy dialogue. Read full book review >
FINNEGAN'S WEEK by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: Oct. 18, 1993

"Smart, crunchy dialogue—too topical, yes, but for now quite witty enough."
After a so-so show in Fugitive Nights (1991), Wambaugh returns nearly in top form with a very funny suspenser about toxic waste. Read full book review >
FUGITIVE NIGHTS by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: Jan. 15, 1992

"Wambaugh cannot write a total wipeout but this is not among his strongest or more durable works."
Wambaugh (The Golden Orange, 1990, etc.) returns to a familiar venue: glittering Palm Springs, its cops, and nearby desert canyons. Read full book review >
THE GOLDEN ORANGE by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: May 14, 1990

Wambaugh returns to the novel after two spellbinding nonfiction police procedurals (Echoes in the Darkness, 1986; The Blooding, 1988), and again—as in The Secrets of Harry Bright, 1985—ties in with an alcoholic ex-cop protagonist. Read full book review >
THE BLOODING by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: Feb. 16, 1988

"A powerful and elegant police procedural."
Wambaugh's darkest nonfiction since The Onion Field: a sleek and steadily gripping chronicle of the rape/murder of two English girls and of the relentless manhunt for the killer, finally nabbed through the nascent technique of genetic fingerprinting. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 16, 1986

"Wambaugh charges ahead masterfully at 90 miles an hour and even manages to trim the lengthy trial proceedings to a lively pace."
Wambaugh at his most waspishly funny, on the unlikely subjects of a murdered Pennsylvania family of three, a double murder, some flimflamming Sears robberies, a $750,000 life-insurance seam, shoplifting—and a generally impotent Don Juan sworn to chastity. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 10, 1985

"The force of alcohol addiction and the essence of self deception in the disease are brought home strongly."
Sidney Blackpool, another divorced, alcoholic Wambaugh homicide detective with the L.A.P.D. whose son Tommy died in a surfing accident a year ago, is plucked from his familiar environs and set down in windy, sand-blasted Mineral Springs, the scratchy underbelly of chi-chi Palm Springs, and promised a very cushy retirement job if he can uncover the likely murderer of multimillionaire Victor Watson's playboy son Jack, who was found burned to a crisp in the desert, with a bullet in his skull. Read full book review >
LINES AND SHADOWS by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: Feb. 16, 1983

"Tough, funny, and moving—with plenty of dead-on cop dialogue."
Strange and powerful cop-fact, from a past-master of cop-fiction: the story of ten San Diego police officers assigned to patrol, on foot, at night, the cactus-filled, snake-infested canyons along the Mexican border. Read full book review >
THE DELTA STAR by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: March 4, 1982

"So, even more than before, it's hold on to your stomachs, forget about traditional police-novel satisfactions—and enjoy (if that's the word) Wambaugh's gritty, ghoulish flights of almost-fancy as a freeform side-show: sorely uneven, but undeniably vivid and occasionally inspired."
What could possibly be the connection between the 1981 Soviet-sub-in-Sweden crisis (the prologue here) and the cops of the L.A.P.D.'s Rampart Station? Read full book review >
THE GLITTER DOME by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: June 15, 1981

"And even more discriminating readers—who'll be annoyed by the overkill, the messy plotting, and the jarring shifts in tone—will continue to be impressed by Wambaugh's pungent dialogue and garishly convincing details."
More gross-out adventures, Wambaugh-style, at the L.A. Police Department—with a murder investigation in Hollywood and side-trips into narcotics, kiddy porn, massage parlors, transvestitism, and police brutality. Read full book review >
THE BLACK MARBLE by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: Jan. 1, 1977

"But natural, strong, seductive storytellers aren't a dime a dozen, and Wambaugh's one of them—even while making a lot of mistakes as he reaches for a broader, less exclusively badges-and-guts audience."
The gross-funny-ugly L.A. Police Dept. jungle gym that was Wambaugh's Choirboys is just background this time—terrific background for two so-so stories: the grisly kidnapping of a dog-show champion by an off-the-wall dog trainer; the predictably offbeat hate-then-love affair between an all-at-sea detective on the way down and an all-together woman detective on the way up. Read full book review >
THE CHOIRBOYS by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: Oct. 29, 1975

"Certainly not for William Holden, possibly for Charles Bronson—a brutal, brutalizing book-a obscenity in a toilet stall, a old centurion's duck soup?"
"You got balls like a elephant and a whang like a ox. . . ." Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1973

"Nothing if not readable which is enough for his constituency."
A slight change from his two similar New Centurion-Blue Knight novels — a burly story of crime and punishment in which, dead or alive, all are victims of the same slugs with which two sociopaths kill one policeman but leave his partner to face another kind of destruction. Read full book review >
THE BLUE KNIGHT by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: Feb. 28, 1972

"This once again has both the virtues and the weaknesses of the earlier book — the explicatory didacticism, the true true-blue dedication, the commanding detail and vernacular — and who's to guess whether it will have an equivalent readership over the same gun barrel."
More of that gritty schmaltz about another new centurion — #4207, the honest if homely old kisser of Bumper Morgan, the "finest cop money can buy" (not really cash — a few cigars here, a little yogurt there). Read full book review >
THE NEW CENTURIONS by Joseph Wambaugh
Released: Jan. 30, 1971

"The author surely must have put in considerable mileage in the squad car, but because of the rush to proselytize, it's a little skimpy on fictional substance."
Undoubtedly authentic in word, deed and attitudes, but not really reaching where it's preaching — this case of three young policemen of the Los Angeles force confronting the coming debacle, or what is called here, the "dying" of the "don'ts." Read full book review >