I bought this book years ago, when I got my first Kindle. Somehow, I never read it, and it remained overlooked and ignored until a recent search through my purchases as part of preparing a new tablet. Glad I found it.
Wambaugh’s skill on show here, is taking real life encounters from the cops of Hollywood, and crafting out of their hodge podge of jokes, urban myths, and legends, an entertaining novel – one that tells a decent story, while simultaneously letting us readers peek behind the curtains and get a taste of the dark underbelly we all know is there, but want to ignore.
This book has two main strands. The first is a prowler, whose attacks on women are escalating in violence and severity. The second is a one man criminal enterprise, Dewey Gleason, who has a different persona (disguise, name, and accent) for each of the several cons he is running.
Both baddies are sympathetically and accurately drawn, to the extent that you may feel some measure of anxiety as they head towards their inevitable comeuppance. Also inevitably, these strands are set to come together, adding a further spice to the narrative.
The police heroes vary in quality of characterization, from cardboard cutouts to full blown, believable, enthralling edifices. That’s to be expected. What is unexpected is the realistic way some of the better characters are, shall we say, written out of the story.
In short, good stuff; neither fresh nor cutting edge, but realistic, thoughtful, and often life affirming, even if you sometimes get the impression the author is on autopilot when telling us about some of the police encounters. Recommended.