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"Harbor Nocturne." This can, I guess, be considered a new mystery/police procedural standalone from noted best-selling American author Joseph Wambaugh. Although it interlocks with the Los Angeles native's acclaimed and popular HOLLYWOOD STATION police series.

LA's southern-most district, San Pedro, actually one of the world's busiest harbors, serves as the setting for this fictional outing. Dinko Babich, a youngish longshoreman, delivers Lita Medina, a young Mexican dancer/whore, from a local topless harbor dive to a Hollywood nightclub. As Wambaugh tells the finely calibrated, ultimately sad story of the unlucky pair's developing love affair and unfortunate involvement with Hollywood gangsters, their paths cross with colorful characters introduced in his Hollywood Station series: the surfer cops known as "Flotsam and Jetsam", aspiring actor "Hollywood Nate" Weiss, young Britney Small, and various new members of the midwatch.

The author here delivers a credible romance, intertwined with a satisfyingly multi-layered crime novel, laced with his habitual sardonic humor. Few writers can match his eye when it's at its sharpest, catching station house routines and the flavor of that auto-dependent mega-city on the West Coast. He does a particularly good job at capturing the styles and rhythms of the white, ethnic working class, and that's quite impressive to me, as he's been a bestselling author for many years now.

Wambaugh is a former LAPD detective, who has mined his on-the-job experience into a prolific, highly successful writing career. He has had many New York Times best-sellers, is a two-time Edgar winner, and is a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master. He has been called "the father of the modern police novel." The man has, so far, written 14 novels and 5 works of nonfiction including The Onion Field,The New Centurions, and The Choirboys. All of them made into feature films. He still lives in Los Angeles. HARBOR NOCTURNE may lack the gravitas of his most important works, but it's certainly worth the reading. Oh, and thank you, with apologies, John Fogarty, Creedence Clearwater Revival...
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If you liked Wambaugh's previous "Hollywood" slice-of-Los-Angeles-police-life books, beginning with Hollywood Station then you'll certainly enjoy this. It has all the same elements - the familiar characters (with the two surfing cops, Flotsam and Jetsam, and their incomprehensible jargon, well to the fore again), bizarre incidents, tragedy, camaraderie and convincingly frazzled lowlifes, all portrayed against a seething multiracial background featuring Russians, Koreans, Serbs, Croatians, Mexicans and Italians (to name only a few nationalities).

All very enjoyable and well worth reading, and by rating it 3 stars I don't mean to suggest it's not good, it is. However, for me, this didn't fizz along quite so well as the earlier volumes. The sections describing the police officers on their night-time patrols were as good as ever, but the subplot, or rather the plot, featuring unlikely love in LA's harbour district, did drag rather and the two elements came together less successfully than in previous books.

I don't know whether the formula is perhaps getting a little tired, or Wambaugh's well of LA police anecdotes might finally be running dry, but I don't think this is the best in the series. Readers of the earlier books will always welcome more of these stories, they're like old friends, but if you're new to them this might not be the best one to start with - I'd suggest reading "Hollywood Station" first, at least.
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on 20 September 2013
I have not read a Joseph Wambaugh book for many years and then I saw an ad for Hollywood Nocturne and thought I would see if he was still on the button for crazy, meandering tales, great characters and poignant stories. Yes he is still operating. Well on top of his game. I really enjoyed this tale from start to finish and as a result discovered some more zany police officers to add to the history. I looked forward to every reading session and derived enormous satisfaction. I would recommend this highly to any reader that likes their police stories and thrillers. Wambaugh is a top class author.
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on 8 January 2013
this book was a present for my partner.he said the book was really good and likes the author .he sat there all day christmas reading over and over again.so yes this book is well worth it and a good read
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on 13 March 2013
Not directly a Hollywood series book but with some of those characters. But still the great Wambaugh style, and the usual mix of lowlifes and craziness, great read!
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on 13 June 2013
Tis guy is one of my favourite authors and this is one of his best . Its a very entertaining and involving book.
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on 29 September 2015
Another great story from an author who just doesn't seem to lose his powers through the passage of time. If you are a fan of his definitely get it and if you haven't read him before you have a lot of catching up to do.
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on 20 June 2013
What can I say? Joseph WAmbaugh is getting a bit 'safe' in his old age! His books used to be great reading...but this one wasn't that good!
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on 3 August 2012
I have read Joseph Wambaughs series of "Hollywood" police stories with great joy. His ability to mix police daily life in Hollywood with interesting criminal and other characters makes for a very interesting read and it is also a great mix of humor with a dark background. I also like the way the criminals are presented. No super criminals, just ordinary people with sometimes petty crimes.

For some reason this one has not received a title in the "Hollywood" series. I cant understand why since the same people occupies this one as well as in the other four books in this series. I do not see this as a stand alone book, it follows "Hollywood Hills", picking up the story where we left of it in the previous book.

The Base story in "Harbor Nocturne" is a love story between a long-shore man with a Croatian background and a very young Mexican "dancer". This story might be a little to "young adult" but it works. In fact I was a little disappointed with the fate of the girl and I think Mr Wambaugh could have written it differently.

But it is an easy read and a book that will add to Mr Wambaughs reputation of being a great mystery writer. I will read his next one in the series as soon as it is published.
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on 5 August 2014
well up to his usual high standards,i continue to collect his work wherever/whenever i see it...recommended
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