three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
35-July-Aug-2008
user_rating: 
0

A-Hollywood CrowsIn Hollywood Station ( 4 of 5 Stars Selection Mar/Apr 2006), the overworked police force of the Hollywood station coped with drug addicts, prostitutes, and street bums. In this sequel, Los Angeles cop-turned-writer Joseph Wambaugh casts a cynical eye on more eccentric residents of Hollywood.

The Story: Battling post–Rodney King era bureaucracy, as well as the flights of fancy of LA’s richest and most outlandish residents, the officers of the Hollywood Community Relations Office, nicknamed "crows," often contend more with quality-of-life issues than with criminal activity. Then the marriage of wealthy strip club owner Ali Aziz and his beautiful but scheming socialite wife Margot ends in divorce—and each wants the other dead. The ensuing battles over money and custody of their only child become increasingly vicious, eventually ensnaring two recently transferred "crows," Hollywood Nate, an aspiring actor, and his troubled colleague Bix Ramstead—with devastating results.
Little, Brown. 352 pages. $26.99. ISBN: 0316025283

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"If the central plot isn’t the most innovative, its denouement—and I won’t spoil it for you—is sad but perfect. What elevates this exceptionally fine read is the intuitive understanding it provides of the way big city cops think and operate." Curt Schleier

Orlando Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Hollywood Crows, which features many of the irresistible characters that we came to know and love in Hollywood Station, is a sure-fire hit, combining slapstick, sardonic wit and a large dollop of reality. … With Hollywood Crows, Wambaugh once again proves that despite fame and fortune he is still a cop at heart." Ann Hellmuth

St. Petersburg Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Hollywood Crows never has a dull moment and is populated with an endearing and infuriating cast of characters, much like The Choirboys, one of his early books. … Wambaugh more or less invented this genre, and he still does it better than anyone else." William McKeen

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"An ensemble of wonderfully drawn characters, both major and minor, always has been a strength of Wambaugh’s novels and, if Hollywood Crows has a shortcoming, it’s that the author seemed unwilling to assign any of this book’s characters the major role. … It’s a flaw only in the sense that it slows the narrative propulsion—though hardly the enjoyment of a well-told and emotionally moving story." Tim Rutten

Philadelphia Inquirer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The Peter Principle of promotion makes an inviting target for Wambaugh’s barbs, but his resentment of the monitoring and the burdensome restrictions it imposes on cops leads him to climb a soapbox and indulge in some uncharacteristically sermonizing prose. Hollywood Crows is at its best when Wambaugh is being himself and casting a jaded eye on the surreal denizens of Hollywood and the sometimes more bizarre cops charged with maintaining a semblance of order in a lunatic world." Desmond Ryan

San Antonio Exp-News 3 of 5 Stars
"In episode after episode, the officers seem more interested in topping each other with one-liners than going after the bad guys. … While fun, the comedy wears thin as the reader waits for Wambaugh to get on with the story." Sterlin Holmesly

Entertainment Weekly 2 of 5 Stars
"At the expense of a gripping story, he tries to capture the crazy multicultural melee of Los Angeles (languages spoken: Spanish, Farsi, surfer), where tweakers mix it up with Guatemalan immigrants and over-the-hill rockers. The woolly plot, which involves a woman scheming to off her husband (and vice versa), unfolds as a vague afterthought." Jennifer Reese

Critical Summary

Hailed as "the master of the modern police story" (St. Petersburg Times), Wambaugh is renowned for his groundbreaking, gritty portrayals of police work in the City of Angels. Critics lamented that, unfortunately, copycat writers have flooded the market in recent years, consigning the once-innovative dialogue and storylines to the realm of the cliché. Wambaugh, however, retains his edge through his grim sense of humor and keen understanding of the LAPD’s inner workings. In Hollywood Crows, he crafts a unique and charmingly flawed cast of characters—many of them returning from Hollywood Station—and an engaging, if somewhat predictable, plot. Though some critics objected to the slapstick routines, the episodic sequence of events, some sermonizing, and the lack of a protagonist, Wambaugh, at 71, still has many tricks up his sleeve.