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HOLLYWOOD HILLS

Though everything takes forever to happen, the laughs are authentic, and a couple of endearing heroes emerge. A middling...

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.

Veteran Officer “Hollywood” Nate Weiss, the only member of the LAPD with a Screen Actors Guild card, hopes that meeting second-tier director/producer Rudy Ressler might be his big break. Rudy wants Hollywood Nate to keep an eye on the art-stocked home of the late meatpacking king Sammy Brueger while Rudy’s off in Tuscany with his fiancée, Benny’s widow Leona, who comes on to Hollywood Nate in a way that seems likely to seal the deal. Alas, the real action at the Brueger place has nothing to do with the movies. Beverly Hills art dealer Nigel Wickland, whom Leona invited out to inspect her security measures, has decided to steal two of Sammy’s prize paintings and replace them with replicas. His plan requires him to embed an accomplice, ex-con caterer-turned-butler Raleigh L. Dibble, in Leona’s household while she’s away, ostensibly to tend her ancient brother-in-law Marty, but actually to provide Nigel access to the house. On the other side of the tracks, high-school dropout Jonas Claymore, too strung out on OxyContin to hold his job parking cars, schemes with his long-suffering housemate Megan Burke to improve his own standard of living by breaking into the homes of the wealthy. You’d never guess which home he picks, or when. The guardians of the law who’ve been invited to this Hiaasen-esque carnival of criminal losers seem like outsiders, and that may be just the point. Hollywood Nate, his old buddy Snuffy Salcedo, probationary Officer Britney Small, her Field Training Officer Della Ravelle, surfer cops Flotsam and Jetsam—all of them do precious little detection or investigation, but a couple of them discharge their service weapons to significant effect.

Though everything takes forever to happen, the laughs are authentic, and a couple of endearing heroes emerge. A middling entry in this waggish series.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-12950-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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FIREFLY LANE

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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