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4.3 out of 5 stars37
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If you read only one novel about the police this year, Hollywood Station would be an excellent choice.

There can be no finer heroes that those who serve in a police force that's under severe scrutiny like the LAPD is today. These officers have to deal with the sins of those who have been expelled, the excesses of those who want to avoid those sins being repeated, and the loss of respect in the public. Hollywood Station provides a fascinating and sympathetic look at what it's like to serve in the middle of such challenges. You'll be both fascinated and repelled by what's revealed.

In the Hollywood of today, Joseph Wambaugh takes us through the crime that's spawned by meth users, the day-to-day violence experienced by the homeless, the disgusting things that people do to those they claim to love, the dangers of selling oneself on the streets, the petty schemes of career criminals, and the outrage that ordinary citizens feel about these signs of human decay.

In parallel, we see the world of the police officer . . . both those who are new to the force and long-time veterans. They find themselves sexually attracted to each other as women are increasingly in the force . . . even though the marriages that result won't work. Their motives for joining are often a wide mark away from the reality, but they find the work rewording and sometimes even fun.

The continuing story in the book reminded me of an 82nd precinct case. In this instance, two meth users find material while fishing in a mail box that leads to a jewel heist. Emboldened by the experience, the thieves decide to go after bigger game . . . with serious consequences for everyone involved.

The back stories of the cons and the cops are well done. You'll feel like you know quite a few of the characters . . . and identify with them.

I also loved the little phrases he dropped into the book to help point out the contrast between the tinsel town of audience dreams and the reality of today such as where he mentioned leaving the "reel Hollywood for the real Hollywood."

I hope that Mr. Wambaugh considers making a book series featuring the Hollywood Station.
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It's been literally decades since I've read a Joseph Wambaugh police procedural thriller. Once his plots left the realm of the LAPD, I lost interest. But he returns with all the old panache with HOLLYWOOD STATION first published in 2006, 14 years after the legendary Chief Daryl Gates retired, or, as some say, was forced out by the 1992 riots that followed the wretched Rodney King episode. It's a new world for the force.

The characters of this novel are the law officers and miscreants they police in the Hollywood Division, which I drive through every day on the way to work unaware of the human dramas and comedies bubbling just below the surface. It's the beat that includes Grauman's Chinese, the Walk of Fame, the Kodak Theater (of the Oscars) and the famous HOLLYWOOD sign. On a broader scale, it's interesting to learn the author's take, as seen through the eyes of his cop heroes, on the doldrums the LAPD has entered under Gates' lackluster successors and the current activist city mayor. The federal consent decree, under which the department currently operates, is particularly odious. Only the watch of the current police chief achieves a hint of approval.

The crimes and misdemeanors of Hollywood's low-life, and the situations confronting L.A.'s finest, are often bizarre. You couldn't make this stuff up, and I suspect that Wambaugh hasn't. At the book's beginning, he gives credit to the police officers of Los Angeles, San Diego and Palm Springs for providing him with anecdotal stories. So, even if the Hollywood Division isn't quite so lively on a daily basis as depicted, the stretch to the imagination is more about frequency than substance and the descriptive "Hollyweird" perhaps has basis in fact.

Wambaugh is back! And I've already got his latest book, HOLLYWOOD CROWS (involving many of the same protagonists), on my Wish List.
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on 9 February 2008
I stumbled across this new book and bought it on the strength of the memory of the last Wambaugh I had read years before 'The Black Marble' which I'd remembered I'd enjoyed very much at the time. My only concern was that it might feel a little dated to me - this has happened before when I've read again authors I'd enjoyed in years past. But no, it was fresh, lively, amusing, very entertaining. Very good in fact.
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Few writers can match the thrilling veracity of Wambauugh at his best, and this is the master back near his best. Funny and bleak, thrilling and sickening, idealistic and cynical - no one evokes the the blasted world of the street cop and the blighted existence of the criminal so authentically.

Dark, compelling and bleakly funny - this blows Wambaughs many imitators (Michael Connelly, et al) out of their shoes.
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on 3 February 2007
I was amazed to see this book at Heathrow Airport just after Christmas and snapped it up. A new Wambaugh after all these years. Before I started reading it I read an interview with Wambaugh who spoke about his bitterness towards the authorities and how they had treated the LAPD post-Rodney King. And this sentiment towards officialdom runs strongly through the book. Wambaugh is obviously upset with the tarnishing of the LAPD and the conditions under which they have to work. Apart from all that it's close to a classic Wambaugh but not quite there. At one point I wasn't too sure if there was going to be a strong central storyline flowing through the book but eventually it became clear who we had to keep within our sights. Some lovely characters were created and some hilarious stories of polcing were told. I was not surprised to read that Wambaugh is in talks with the TV companies to produce a series based on Hollywood Station. Thanks heavens Wambaugh is back.
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on 8 November 2007
This book reads almost like a series of anecdotes, which makes sense when you read the blurb at the fronot thanking the input of many LAPD officers. This is a style that provides a lot of interesting stuff, but somehow doesnt allow the narative to flow (c.f. James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard and others). That said, some of the character development is excellent and there are some really moving portraits of life. There are also plenty of very funny bits and the dialogue is great. I think this is nearly 5* but not quite.
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on 12 October 2007
What a book! The first chapter was a little difficult to get into and then nothing could stop me. I loved the characters. The book is a superb read. I'm constantly looking for new authors and can't imagine how I missed him before. Highly recommended.
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on 25 May 2008
Shades of the Choirboys, with great, true to life, human cops and spicy characters. Dark, dark humour will have you chuckling. A great read by the best in the business. This reminds me to go back and read his books all over again.
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on 10 March 2007
I really enjoyed this book. The story line was sufficiently complex and varied to keep my attention and the development of each of the characters was excellent. It goes a long way to reminding you that police officers are human beings too. The issues raised by the politicisation of the police through civil rights activities, the media and politicians is threaded into the story as well. In the policitically correct world we live in where it is almost easier to prosecute law abiding citizens than it is to prosecute real criminals, Wambaugh gives a fresh view of the challenges faced by law enforcement as they work to keep the peace. Brilliant stuff!
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on 9 January 2007
This is a brilliant read. I am a graet fan of people like Robert Crais, Ian Rankin, John Connor, Michael Connely, Pelicanos etc and this book ranks up with the best of them. It follows the days in the lives of some of the LAPD officers - their ups and downs their humourous moments and their everyday wacky encounters in the City of the Angels. The humour is there, the storyline is there and the characters are there which combined makes this a very good and at times funny book. Easily read in two good sessions. You will be back for more.
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