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I See a Hollywood Moon A-Rising; Don't Go Out Tonight, 'Cause It's Bound to Take Your Life
on 22 March 2012
"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...