QUERCUS, £17.99. Order for £16.19 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Hollywood Moon, By Joseph Wambaugh
Thursday 21 January 2010
Is your image of American cops gleaned from such TV shows as CSI? Despite messy private lives, formidable professionals get the job done. Or do you think a more accurate picture is presented in The Wire? Often corrupt individuals are obliged to play a great deal of office politics. If either of these sets of cops are your yardsticks, then you have clearly never read a novel by Joseph Wambaugh.
The author, who served in the LAPD for 14 years, painted a scabrous picture of the kind of men he worked with in such books as The New Centurions and The Choirboys. Wambaugh’s off-the-wall police (and equally eccentric criminals) make just about every other fictional representation look sedate.
Hollywood Moon attains new levels of freakishness. There are the two “surfer” cops, Flotsam and Jetsam, whom we first encounter talking about a detectivewho hires a midget to go bowling with him – as it makes casual sexual encounters easier. Perhaps no odder is colleague “Hollywood” Nate Weiss, whose stillborn acting career has propelled him into the police force. Several fellow cops are locked into destructive sexual relationships with each other.
However, it’s the larger-than-life miscreants who really take the biscuit. The usual collection of drag queens and murderous crackheads begins to seem almost quotidian against the cast of villains here. Fraud artist Dewey Gleason and his sharp-tongued wife, Eunice, make their money by stealing credit cards and looting mailboxes. They decide that it’s time to move into a bigger league, and initiate an ambitious plan for a kidnapping. But they make the mistake of hiring a fellow criminal, whose secret life as a serial sex attacker is to throw a monkey-wrench into their plans.
Both cops and criminals converse in a no-holds-barred, over-the-top fashion that is just lacerating enough to ring true. Hollywood Moon lacks the bite of Wambaugh’s vintage work, but it’s still idiosyncratic and highly individual fare.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Sherlock series 4: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have to be 'persuaded' to return, says Steven Moffat
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
A victory for gender equality on the high seas
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election