Chances are you will have heard of Joe Wambaugh and his all pervasive influence on the Police procedural. Crimezines favorite Floridian Michael Connelly claims Wambaugh invented the modern Police novel. High praise indeed. But Conners is quite right. When it comes to cops especially the LAPD, Wambaugh is the man.
Joe Wambaugh is the writer behind Police Story, which ran from 1973 to 1977 and influenced every police series that followed including such classics as Hill Street Blues. A former police detective himself, Wambaugh, now in his seventies, has been writing a long time.
His first published novel The New Centurions appeared in 1971, it was quickly followed by a number of classic police novels including The Onion Field, a work of such magnitude, it was compared to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
The fictional novel The Choirboys,(1973) was influenced closely by Joseph Heller’s classic Catch 22. Wambaugh has adhered to this Helleristic voice ever since. Though Crimezine feels that there is also a debt of gratitude to such fine American authors as Charles Bukowski and Theodore Dreiser.
There were other novels of course, but none received the critical acclaim of his early ’70’s works based on the LAPD. Prior to the 2006 novel Hollywood Station Wambaugh’s novel The Delta Star was the last novel he wrote featuring LA’s finest.
Hollywood Station is rich with Wambaugh’s unique blend of black humor. It is a novel that deals with the lives of the officers who work at Hollywood Station with great sympathy and humanity. It also covers the crazy and sordid lives of the myriad small time crooks, who inhabit Hollywood Division, from the craziest vagrants to the most hopeless meth-heads who float through Hollywood’s criminal underworld.
It is a rich and engrossing world, that draws the reader in, and just as you think there is no methodology, you suddenly find that the characters stories connect. Hollywood Station also describes the crazed level of bureaucracy preventing working cops from doing their job effectively, a subject that Wambaugh tackles with great style and wit.
Hollywood Station is an awesome book. A true Crimezine classic and an essential introduction to the works that have now become Wambaugh’s Hollywood Quadrilogy: Hollywood Station, Hollywood Crows, Hollywood Moon & Holly