HOLLYWOOD HILLS by Joseph Wambaugh


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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. 16th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-316-12950-3
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2010


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