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HOLLYWOOD MOON by Joseph Wambaugh

HOLLYWOOD MOON

By Joseph Wambaugh

Pub Date: Nov. 24th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-316-04518-6
Publisher: Little, Brown

A police procedural coexists with the story of an identity-theft operation in this follow-up to Hollywood Station (2006) and Hollywood Crows (2008).

Some members of the dysfunctional family at Hollywood Station reappear, including surfer dudes Flotsam and Jetsam and Hollywood Nate Weiss, still dreaming of an acting career. We see these cops at roll call and in their patrol cars, working the midwatch. They crack wise, goof off and sometimes actually catch criminals. When a young Marine kills a drag queen, there’s a chase and a firefight, the Marine dies and the episode ends with an elaborate, tasteless joke about Brokeback Mountain (par for the course here). The odyssey of middle-aged identity thieves Dewey and Eunice Gleason runs on a parallel track. Despite their mutual hostility, they remain business partners (and married). Hard-as-nails Eunice is the mastermind, toiling at her computers while weak-willed, self-doubting failed actor Dewey sallies forth, using different disguises to recruit street runners for various scams. His lead runners are Jerzy, a dumb, potentially violent meth tweaker, and Tristan, a smart black guy ready to grab a bigger piece of the pie. Dewey’s latest recruit is Malcolm Rojas, a young Hispanic with an anger-management problem who stalks older women. Already weakened by Wambaugh’s decision not to splice his thieves’ shenanigans with a police investigation, the novel suffers further from slow character development and the long setup of the runners’ revolt against the Gleasons. At the end of this poorly paced affair, characters fall like dominoes, with four quick kills preceding a return to frat-house humor.

Well below Wambaugh’s customary high standard.