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

HOLLYWOOD HILLS

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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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