Review

Hollywood Moon

by Joseph Wambaugh

“For you new people, a Hollywood moon is what the Oracle
called a full moon, and tonight we’re getting close. The team
with the weirdest call gets an extra-large pizza with the
works….of course, we’ll share the pizza with the
winners. Too much of that stuff is not healthy for you.”

For the LAPD, it’s the city streets that are not healthy.
The officer known fondly as the Oracle has been “end of
shift” for many years. It is now considered bad luck not to
touch his picture when filing out of roll call. You won’t
catch the cops on the Middle Watch hitting the streets without
indulging their superstition. No one knows better than they do that
it takes more than training to keep them alive. A little luck
can’t hurt.

In this newest novel from former LAPD detective Joseph Wambaugh,
fans will revisit some old familiar characters in new situations,
along with fresh felons and a transplanted cop or two to spice
things up. But, have no doubt, the streets of L.A. have gotten much
uglier and filled with much bigger problems. The sheer amount of
crime is overwhelming in the City of Angels.

One problem child, 19-year-old Malcolm Rojas, has serious
problems with anger management. A very young teen named Naomi
Teller has developing problems with an older boy named Clark Jones,
also known as Malcolm Rojas. Identity thief Dewey Gleason has
constant problems with Eunice, his wife of nine years. And his
runners Tristan and New Jerzy have budding problems with Dewey and
Eunice. It’s a very tangled web.

But it’s all nothing compared to the plethora of problems
the Hollywood Division has. For days, you can ride along with
“Hollywood” Nate Weiss and his partner as they try to
catch what’s shaping up to be a serial rapist. Or spend
several shifts with Flotsam and Jetsam, so named because of their
fondness for surfing. There’s also Sheila Montez, with whom a
whole host of the male cops want to be paired, or R.T. Dibney, with
whom no one wants to be paired. And all the while, the entire
division competes for the Hollywood moon prize. Since the prize
hinges on weirdness, the stories that are told at the end of shift
grow stranger and stranger.

Meanwhile, small-time scammer Dewey Gleason tries to make a go
of his aspirations of becoming an actor by creating different
personas when he deals with the various “aides” in his
criminal enterprise. Dewey’s acting is about as bad as his
luck with women. His wife Eunice seems perpetually disgusted,
enough so that Dewey fears she may kick his butt out onto the
street, a scenario that absolutely terrifies him since he has no
idea where she has hidden all their savings. Starting over at his
age with his contacts --- or, rather, lack thereof --- scares the
bravado right out of him. But, then, almost everything does.

There’s a lot going on in HOLLYWOOD MOON, and the story is
entertaining enough to wade through an overabundance of bizarre
characters, cop jargon and street talk. Wambaugh fans, rejoice, for
some of these police personnel will live to see another day and
tell another story.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 22, 2011

Hollywood Moon
by Joseph Wambaugh

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446548510
  • ISBN-13: 9780446548519