Hollywood Hills by Joseph Wambaugh: They’re Back


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Former cop turned author Joseph Wambaugh is one of my favourite writers. His books and the characters who reside in them are brilliant. They are full of black humour, pathos, tragedy, and fun. Each and every participant in one of his books breathe. You find your self becoming attached to them all, even the villains.

He writes pretty impressive non-fiction books as well. Check out his Lines and Shadows for an in-depth and amazing look at how one San Diego policeman tried to help the problems faced by immigrants crossing the border. Innocents being slaughtered and raped by the gangs that prowled the empty desert canyons for victims.

But I digress.

Hollywood Hills is the fourth in a series of books about the cops that make up the Hollywood division in LA. Most of the familiar cast are back. “Hollywood Nate” Weiss the Screen Actors Guild card carrying cop, Flotsam and Jetsam the two surfer cops, and ex-basketball player Div Taylor and her partner ex-marine “The Gypsy” all feature heavily in this tale of Hollywood homicide and hokum.

There is a crime ring that is hitting all celebrity homes and robbing them blind. They use social networking to plan their robberies. Butler Raleigh Dibble works for Julius Hampton, a miserly skinflint that keeps Raleigh on a short leash. While at lunch the two men run into gay Art Gallery owner Nigel Wickland. Wickland tells Raleigh of an employment opportunity with widowed Leona Brueger, a member of the Hollywood elite and voracious cougar who has an interest in Hollywood Nate.

Soon Raleigh has jumped the Hamilton ship and set sail with Leona looking after her ill brother. Wickland now has Raleigh where he wants him and the two men plan to steal two very expensive pieces of art from the widow.

Twenty-two year old druggie Jonas Claymore and his equally drugged out girl friend Megan Burke decide to emulate the celebrity crime ring, dubbed the Bling Ring by the local media, and improve their chances of keeping supplied with the drug of their choice OxyContin. It is their entry into the world of crime that causes a serendipitous intermingling of their crime wave with Dibble’s and Wickland’s.

Meanwhile Hollywood Nate thinks he’s going to finally get the big break he’s been waiting for and the rest of the gang at the Hollywood division carry on dealing with the “not-so-normal” dealings with the nuts that make up the local citizenry that they are pledged to protect.

Like the other three books in this series, Hollywood Hills is damned entertaining. Wambaugh continues to treat us to our favourite characters everyday dilemma’s and introduces a few new ones. The pages of his books exude a poetic irony and delicious amount of crazy.

I do have to say that the “secondary” criminals in this book do seem to shadow some characters in his other books. But dealing with criminals on a daily basis for 10 years myself, I can say with pretty firm conviction, there isn’t a whole lot of variation between the folks who populate the world of the law-breaker.

A real 5 star addition to Wambaugh’s series about the Hollywood precinct.

Author Joseph Wambaugh. (courtesy of nndb)
Author Joseph Wambaugh. (courtesy of nndb)

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

2 thoughts on “Hollywood Hills by Joseph Wambaugh: They’re Back”

  1. Great review. I used to read all his books … sort of fell by the wayside in favor of history and sci fi/fantasy. That picture must be 30 years old! He was a best-selling author when I was working at Doubleday in the early 1970s. Or, he has an aging portrait in the attic … OR a REALLY good plastic surgeon!

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