Click here to read reviewer Cheryl Morgen's take on Hollywood Crows.
Anyone who has enjoyed Wambaugh’s earlier novels (The Choirboys, The New Centurions, The Onion Field), cannot help but feel a bit of nostalgia for those edgy, tough books. On the Hollywood beat, some of the cops are as bizarre as the denizens who troll in search of opportunistic crimes, including two tanned surfers nicknamed Flotsam and Jetsam, and “Hollywood” Nate Weiss, who carries a SAG card with his police identification.
Perhaps more cynical now, the author’s “Hollywood” novels focus on the general craziness of police work in the place where dreams are quickly tarnished by the real nature of a city awash in glitter. Just like every other city, under the layers of pretensions, hardworking people, petty criminals, miscreants and psychos, regular families and star-struck wannabe’s, everyone has a con or a hustle, just like Las Vegas or Miami.
Hollywood Crows refers to the Community Relations Office, where the assigned personnel do community liaison work - not quite as dangerous as regular tours, but certainly just as predictable. Newly assigned to the CROWS, Ronnie Sinclair teams up with veteran Bix Ramstead, one of the few monogamous men on the force, who is recently sober.
As the days wear on and Ronnie becomes more familiar with Bix, she realizes there is more to his placid demeanor than first appears. Their partnership too fresh for her to interfere, Ronnie senses Bix is in trouble but is unable to imagine how to help her partner.
Meanwhile, Hollywood Nate has his eye on an almost-divorced beauty who has got more than one man willing to do her bidding. It is Margot’s soon-to-be-ex, Ali Aziz, who throws a wrench into everyone’s plans, creating a climax that has dire consequences for more than one of the CROWS.
Wambaugh knows L.A. intimately, his wry cynicism evident in the futile grumblings of frustrated citizens, crackheads who can’t catch a break in the system. and the officers who try to stick a finger in the dike while their own personal lives disintegrate.
While the author offers a semblance of humor, there is a sad element to the daily minutiae of police work, the tired citizens trudging to unsatisfying, minimum-wage jobs only to do it all over again the next day, LA. a warren of cubbyholes and shabby apartments, the sprawling underbelly of a city that exists on the fumes of myth.
Mostly a weird mélange of diverse eccentrics, crooks and cops, the story ends in tragedy. The CROWS pause for a minute of reflection, then move on to the business at hand.