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Hollywood Crows    by Joseph Wambaugh order for
Hollywood Crows
by Joseph Wambaugh
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

A couple of years ago, veteran author Joseph Wambaugh returned to the forefront of crime fiction with the publication of Hollywood Station. Now, with a few of the same characters making another appearance, Hollywood Crows is available for readers' pleasure.

Nate Weiss (otherwise known as Hollywood Nate because of his keen interest in becoming an actor in television and films) has had enough of his current assignment (and supervisor) at Hollywood Station, and now he is beginning a challenging new assignment with the Hollywood Division Community Relations Office (CRO or crow). Joining Weiss is the Hollywood Station heartthrob, Officer Ronnie Sinclair. Another crow is Bix Ramstead, a family man and veteran officer who has recently sworn off booze (at least that is what he has told Sinclair).

The action ratchets up when an intriguing corps of cops - notably including the surfer cops Flotsam and Jetsam - confront a rogue's gallery of crooks and crimes that range from the absurd to appalling and the mundane to murderous. Miscellaneous cops, crimes, and criminals are woven throughout the narrative of Hollywood Crows, but the dominant case involves an immigrant owner of Hollywood strip clubs, Ali Aziz, and his estranged wife from the central valley of California, the seductive and desperate Margot; Ali is plotting against Margot (ostensibly to make sure he wins custody of their son, either through the divorce and custody settlement or through some other final solution), and Margot is plotting against Ali (ostensibly to make sure she financially profits from either the divorce or from her own version of some other final solution).

Normally, Ali's and Margot's problems might be no different than hundreds of thousands of other divorces throughout the United States, but things are always a little different and bizarre in Hollywood (especially when portrayed in one of Joseph Wambaugh's exceptional police procedurals). In fact, in Hollywood Crows, both Nate Weiss and Bix Ramstead find themselves uncomfortably drawn into Margot's and Ali's problems, and the final dissolution to Margot's and Ali's marriage is one neither Nate nor Bix could have anticipated - though, as police officers, they should have seen it coming.

Ultimately, what you have in the highly recommended Hollywood Crows is a fast-paced, kaleidoscopic tale in which dirty rotten scoundrels of all stripes are involved in all sorts of crimes - including murder - proving once again that Hollywood may be a colorful place but it is also a dangerous place for a madcap cast of crooks and cops.

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