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L.A. Law and Disorder
on 24 July 2008
Having read this novel, my Wambaugh total is now up to - well - one, to be exact. It's about LA Cops and LA people, and provides a little peek into the sordid underbelly (apologies, but I always wanted to get an opportunity to say that) of life on the Hollywood streets.
The story isn't about the famous sign or the stars on the pavement, and it's not about black birds or old women, and to be quite honest, the plot isn't really that good in the first place, but the black humor and the low morality level is what keeps the reader turning the pages.
On the side of law and order (chung-chung!) we meet Matthew McConaughey-type surfer cops Flotsam and Jetsam, who have a knack for finding trouble and a lot of true grit (from the beach). There's veteran Bix Ramstead, a loving family man coasting towards retirement, and then there's potentially famous actor Nate Weiss biding his time before being discovered. There's a trio of strong female officers named Cat, Ronnie and Gert, and a few others including the officious and clueless Sergeant Treakle, but you can read about them for yourself.
On the civilian side, there's a weaselly little cokehead named Leonard, a strip club owner named Ali Aziz, his ravishingly beautiful wife (and ex-employee) Margot, and a Mexican pharmacist who's willing to turn the other cheek for a treat and a trick. You'll also find out what goes on behind the scenes with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and all the other characters on the strip.
Naturally, some of them come into contact while Wambaugh turns his all-too-human characters into the terribly obvious story-line, and although he blows most of the suspense by straight-out telling you most of the details, there are one or two little twists he keeps until the right time. He also hits pretty hard at police procedure and bureaucracy in the light of the need to maintain an untarnished image after the Rampart affair.
I'm gathering that he's written better books, and although I don't think this is one of them, it has enough juicy stuff to make you look.