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Friday, July 6, 2012

Harbor Nocturne by Joseph Wambaugh - a review

Wambaugh, a former L.A. cop, has churned out over twenty novels pulling on experiences he went through ‘on the job.’ He tells us there are two types of cops; that since the years after the Rodney King beating the department became full of “risk-averse cops who wanted to get through their closely supervised careers safely” and the “retro action-oriented risk takers, who always ran straight to the sound of guns.” He makes it pretty clear which one he would have us believe he is.

The cops are regurgitated characters from his last four novels, ‘Hollywood[TAA1] ’ Nate and Flotsam and Jetsam, charismatic figures in the Los Angeles police Hollywood Station series who are once again called upon to carry the story-line with their side-kick partners. The stories are entertaining and probably gleaned from truth to life told to Wambaugh but more recent police escapades. None of the coppers or their adventures are as awe inspiring as his first few novels and you get a feeling Wambaugh knows this as he can’t help himself but to remind us of his illustrious writing past by referring to his 1973 masterpiece “The Onion Field,” and still have all his officers touch a picture of The Oracle, a figure from his past, as they exit the station every day, just like The Green Bay Packers getting a blessing from Lombardi every time they play; tradition is strong within the department.

Wambaugh comes to his own in this latest narrative when he gets away from the police department and wanders into the character development of the seedy side of San Pedro and explores the lives of Lita Medina, a down-on-her-luck illegal alien from Mexico who has been caught up in the entertainment business, taking her clothes of in a local strip club. With Koreans and Russians plying their trade in the human smuggling and making these young girls pay to play local hoodlum, Hector Cozzo plies his trade as a procurer of talent for his new bosses. A chance meeting with Lita and one of Hector’s old high-school chums, Dinko Babich soon leads to true love and the unraveling of the flesh trade in San Pedro.

With his typical dark humor Wambaugh leads us through his latest entertaining, suspense filled and tragic story-line with gritty reality. Another entertaining read from the master of police dramas.

 [TAA1]I don’t know if this is a character’s name a book title or what. He has it in single quotes with no comma so I have no help trying to make sure it’s done right. Can you right out from him and make sure the editing is right? Thanks.

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