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Joseph Wambaugh

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William Marling (Case Western University) said of Joseph Wambaugh, he “is a former policeman who transformed the sub-genre of the police novel into serious literature of a hard-boiled nature. His first four books and his work on the Police Story television series in the 1970s set standards of realism, dialogue, and character development for subsequent writers or turned them in new directions.

The son of a policeman, Wambaugh was born in East Pittsburgh, joined the Marines at seventeen, and married at eighteen. After an Associate degree from Chafee College, he joined the police and rose through the ranks from patrolman to detective sergeant (1960-74). While working as a policeman, he attended Cal State University Los Angeles, receiving his B.A. and M.A. From his Catholic faith to his young marriage and Marine service, Wambaugh epitomized the police force. But then he began to "moonlight," as he said, writing about that life and his colleagues. When he published The New Centurions in 1971 the acclaim was instant and unanimous. "Let us dispel forever the notion that Mr. Wambaugh is only a former cop who happens to write books," wrote Evan Hunter in the New York Times Book Review: "This would be tantamount to saying that Jack London was first and foremost a sailor. Mr. Wambaugh is, in fact, a writer of genuine power, style, wit and originality who has chosen to write about police in particular as a means of expressing his views on society in general.” 

In 1954, Joseph Wambaugh entered the United States Marine Corps.  He was discharged in 1957 and began college, earning his BA in 1960. He joined the Los Angeles Police Department, rising to the rank of Detective Sergeant.  He left the LAPD in 1971 to pursue his writing career full-time.  In 1968, he earned an MA. Joseph Wambaugh is the author of Hollywood Station; Hollywood Crows; Delta Star; The New Centurions; The Blooding; Echoes in the Darkness; Finnegan's Week; The Golden Orange; Lines and Shadows; The Black Marble; The Blue Knight; The Choirboys; The Secrets of Harry Bright; The Onion Field; Fire Lover; Fugitive Nights; The Glitter Dome; and, Floaters.

One reader of The Onion Field said, “I lived in Los Angeles in 1963 and I've seen the movie several times, but not until I picked up a used copy of the book out of the Good Will this last week did I read the written account. As usual, the book is ten times better than the movie. It's gripping and very hard to put down. The sadness of what happens to the surviving police detective is so frustrating and seems, today, so unnecessary. Of course, we forget that seeking help from therapists and even talking about your innermost fears(called "burdening others" with your problems), etc. were not the vogue in 1963. If they had been, this story might have ended differently. I was particularly interested in the author's references to local landmarks which made the story come alive for me. What makes it eerier is that the area of the onion field where the murder took place is not all that far from the city but even so, it's strictly away from city life, kind of up in the hills, pitch dark at night and isolated with nothing but a big lonely highway running through surrounding fields growing a variety of crops. Oddly enough, regarding the two sleazoid criminals, at times they seemed more intelligent than some of the defense attorneys. Fantastic story! I predict it will stay with you for days after reading it.”

One reader of The Blue Knight said, “Mr. Wambaugh's outstanding book still holds up after three decades. World-weary after twenty years on the police force, Bumper Morgan reflects on the changing nature of police work and the potential for a new phase of his life when he retires at the age of 50. He is exposed on a daily basis to the extremes of the human condition; from seamy survivalist of poverty and drug-addiction to courageous, law-abiding citizens just trying to get by. Overweight Bumper wallows in a variety of "freebies", especially food, that appreciative merchants heap upon him for helping them out throughout his career. A realistic and compassionate depiction of a street cop. Absolutely worth reading.”

According to the book description of The Choirboys, “Partners in the Los Angeles Police Department, they’re haunted by terrifying dark secrets of the night watch–shared predawn drink and sex sessions they call choir practice. Each wears his cynicism like a bulletproof jockstrap–each has his horror story, his bad dream, his night shriek. He is afraid of his friends–he is afraid of himself.”

One reader of The Choirboys said, when it “was published almost thirty years ago, I was a young Marine thinking of becoming a police officer. I read Wambaugh's fiction back then because it provided a unique combination of humor and truth about police work. Or at least it seemed as if it might be the truth - Wambaugh had been a cop and I hadn't. And of all his fiction, Choirboys was by far the funniest... and at the same time, its story the most tragic and bittersweet.

Now I'm an old cop in a big metro area, looking towards retirement. Every couple years, I read Choirboys again. It amazes me and overwhelms me to find that it rings more true with every reading. The more I see of police work and of life, the more I realize how much humor and truth Wambaugh really was able to put into this book. It's all there: the amazing things that happen in life, some horrible, some hilarious. The camaraderie, kidding, and practical jokes that cops constantly use to keep their perspective. The way Wambaugh's cops don't always like each other, but they always look out for each other. The supervisors and administrators - some good, far too many bad. It's the truest book I've ever read and gets better every time I read it. I've given away a lot of copies of this one.

I'm not sure, but I believe Choirboys was written at about the time that Wambaugh was leaving police work to devote all his time to writing. The book is definitely written from the perspective of someone who is willing to burn some bridges. It is unflinchingly realistic regarding the careerism and hypocrisy that Wambaugh saw in many police supervisors and administrators, and in the politics of the department itself. But Wambaugh never preaches, he satirizes, and he makes his reader laugh out loud again and again. The bottom line is - this is the best cop book I know of. I hope you'll think so too, and I'm willing to bet that you do.”

According to the book description of The New Centurions, “In a class of new police recruits, Augustus Plebesly is fast and scared. Roy Fehler is full of ideals. And Serge Duran is an ex-marine running away from his Chicano childhood. In a few weeks they'll put on the blue uniform of the LAPD. In months they'll know how to interpret the mad babble of the car radio, smell danger, trap a drug dealer, hide a secret, and-most of all-live with the understanding that cops are different from everyone else. But for these men, these new centurions, time is an enemy. The year is 1960. The streets are burning with rage. And before they can grow old on this job, they'll have to fight for their lives.”

One reader of The New Centurions said it “came as a bit of a surprise to me. I read other Wambaugh works, but they were written more recently. This book was written back in the early part fo Wambaugh's career, and I feel under the false assumption that it was going to be inferior. Boy, was I wrong. This is the most honest and perfect police novel I have ever read, and I liked it more than the author's later work (which I love).

"The New Centurions" focuses on the lives of three Los Angeles cops from boot camp to their 5 year anniversary on the force. Not a police procedural, the emphasis is rather on the lives of the characters and the various experiences they go through as police officers. Alternately brutal, funny, smart, sad, warm, philosophical, and ugly, "The New Centurions" is an extremely well-done piece of realistic fiction. These characters could be real. I won't spoil anything here, but I have to recommend this book to anyone interested in the cop lifestyle. I'm going to give this book to my brother who has contemplated becoming a police officer, since I think the realism here can be an eye-opener.”

Publisher’s Weekly said of Fire Lover, “Returning to print after a six-year hiatus, former LAPD detective sergeant and bestselling author Wambaugh (The Onion Field, etc.) focuses on firefighters rather than his usual police beat. It's a surprising switch, but Wambaugh's regular readers will not be disappointed, since sparks fly throughout this potent probe into the life of arson investigator John Leonard Orr. Fascinated by fires in his L.A. childhood, Orr learned fire fighting in the air force. An eccentric loner with few friends and a womanizer with a string of failed marriages, he was rejected by the LAPD and LAFD. In 1974 he joined the Glendale Fire Department, where his gun-toting, crime-crusading capers earned him the label "cop wanna-be" from both police and firemen. Rising in the ranks, Orr became well-known as an arson sleuth. He had a sixth sense for tracking pyros, but there was one serial arsonist, responsible for the deaths of four, who remained elusive. In 1990, during the worst fire in Glendale's history, some noted that Orr's behavior "seemed very peculiar." That same year, Orr was appointed fire captain and began writing a "fact-based novel" about a serial arsonist who turns out to be a firefighter and in it Orr revealed certain facts about the unsolved arson case that he couldn't have known through his work. Was Orr the serial arsonist? Wambaugh recreates these events for a suspenseful, adrenaline-rush account of what one profiler dubbed "probably the most prolific American arsonist" of the 20th century.”

Publisher’s Weekly said of Fugitive Nights, “Wambaugh's latest, following The Golden Orange , promises more entertainment than it delivers. The plot centers around PI Breda spok Burrows, a former LAPD detective, and three cops: hard-drinking Lynn Cutter, waiting for approval of his disability pension and retirement; Jack Graves, whose life and career were ruined when he killed a 12-year-old boy by mistake; and Nelson Hareem, an ambitious and aggressively manic young officer hoping for reassignment from the county outskirts to Palm Springs. Burrows hires Cutter to determine why the wealthy elderly husband of her client has apparently made a donation to a local sperm bank. Meanwhile, as Graves works to redeem himself, Hareem tracks a mysterious fugitive--perhaps an international terrorist-- who beat up a cop at a desert airport, stole a truck and disappeared. An unexpected resolution to Burrows's case precedes a wild chase during a celebrity golf tournament and a bloody climax at a post-tournament party. While poking fun at the Palm Springs lifestyle, Wambaugh offers plenty of his trademark cop humor, including a funny but essentially irrelevant prologue skewering President Bush and Sonny Bono. But in this case, the whole equals less than the sum of its parts.”

Kirkus Reviews said of The Black Marble, “The gross-funny-ugly L.A. Police Dept. jungle gym that was Wambaugh's Choirboys is just background this time - terrific background for two so-so stories: the grisly kidnapping of a dog-show champion by an off-the-wall dog trainer; the predictably offbeat hate-then-love affair between an all-at-sea detective on the way down and an all-together woman detective on the way up. The two stories will eventually mesh, but for a while they alternate with teasing efficiency - first introducing impoverished Pasadena divorcee Madeline Dills Whitfield, obsessive, love-starved owner of beloved schnauzer Victoria Regina; then the odd couple in the cop-car - sweetly spaced-out, vodka-soaked Valnikov ("the non-sequitur king of the whole goddam police department") and his appalled new partner Natalie Zimmerman; and, finally, supercreep dog-man Philo Skinner, overage stud manque, with dangerous gambling debts, a superfluous wife, and dreams of Puerto Vallarta. While Natalie desperately tries to convince the brass that Valnikov is a certifiable basket case, Philo manages to grab Vicky Regina at a dog-show and demands a ransom Madeline can't pay - which brings Sgt. Valnikov onto the case (and into Madeline's lonely bed). And by the time that Valnikov's solid, slogging detective work brings him face to face with Philo, a killer shepherd, and the mutilated schnauzer for a bloody, endless gouge-and-grapple, Natalie isn't so eager to see her "Andrushka" in a straitjacket. The Black Marble (that's what losers like Val and Philo always wind up with) should hive been better than it is: the police station running gags are too running to be real, the black-comic touches (like a pet funeral) prove again that Wambaugh ain't Waugh, and Andrushka and Natasha deserve better than a pure musical-comedy ending. But natural, strong, seductive storytellers aren't a dime a dozen, and Wambaugh's one of them - even while making a lot of mistakes as he reaches for a broader, less exclusively badges-and-guts audience.”

One reader of Echoes in the Darkness said, “as a graduate of Upper Merion--with Jay Smith's signature on my diploma and Bill Bradfield's loopy enthusiasm whenever I successfully translated Catullus still ringing in my head--this book was a "must-read." I CAN say that Wambaugh does his usual good job of capturing certain facets of the main characters and presenting the case, particularly from the viewpoint of the investigators, whom he lionizes. (Unfortunately, the intervening years have led to revelations about their mishandling of evidence and own character failings...which tarnishes their victory somewhat.) He also succeeds in pointing out the inverse relationship between intelligence and common sense that often exists among academics, and definitely existed here. I found his description of sociopathic behavior and how it forged the bizarro bond between these two men especially illuminating. However, it's what I usually like best about Wambaugh's books that forms the basis for my only criticism: there's no mistaking the fact he's an ex-cop. That means he forms his judgments about the perpetrators, followers, and even the victim early on and sticks to them. These people weren't quite so black and white. That being said, it's a good read that captures the gothic feel it strives for, and makes me extremely sad for the mother and children who were lost...and angry at people I respected who had so much potential.

Publisher’s Weekly said of Hollywood Crows, “Gallows humor and the grim realities of street police work coexist uneasily in this less than stellar follow-up to Hollywood Station (2006) from MWA Grand Master Wambaugh. Nathan Weiss, known as Hollywood Nate for his acting ambitions, and his friend Bix Ramstead are now assigned to the LAPD's Community Relations Office, which handles quality-of-life issues and whose members are referred to as Crows. Weiss and Ramstead both become ensnared by a stunning femme fatale, Margot Aziz, who's in the middle of a contentious divorce. Aziz is trying to gain the upper hand over her husband, who operates a seedy nightclub but stays on the good side of law enforcement with well-timed donations to police charities. Aziz's scheming follows a fairly predictable path, and there's not much suspense about the outcome. Through the eyes of an eccentric collection of beat cops, Wambaugh gives a compelling picture of what policing is like under the federal monitor appointed to oversee the real LAPD after the Rampart corruption scandal, but characterizations are on the thin side and some readers may find the callous cruelty off-putting.”

One reader of Hollywood Crows said, “The first reviewer of the book said Wambaugh was in "the declining years" of his work. Maybe that's true - we all grow old - but this novel, the second of the "Hollywood" series, is still better than many other crime novels by authors in fresh bloom.  I don't think Wambaugh's work can be compared to other crime novelists. His "procedurals" have scarcely any decernable plots - though this one has more than most - but are instead character studies of both the high and low forms of life in Los Angeles. Cops and criminals and everyone in between. Wambaugh's work is not for everybody. It certainly would not appeal to the political correct among us. Maybe that's why I like his work so much.”

Publisher’s Weekly said of Echoes in the Darkness, “The bizarre, seven-year-long case of an Upper Merion, Pa., high school teacher, Susan Reinert, found murdered in 1979, and her two missing children receives masterful treatment from police novelist Wambaugh, who is now building a reputation as a true-crime writer. He shows the dead teacher's lover, colleague and beneficiary of her insurance policies amounting to about $750,000to have been a superficial intellectual, able to dazzle impressionable high school students and to gather around himself a coterie of naive and trusting neurotics. There is no doubt in the author's mind that William Bradfielda Pied Piper of the chronologically adult but psychically underdeveloped committed the crime in concert with the former principal of the school, Jay Smith, whom he portrays as a sociopath. The skein of murder is highly complex, but Wambaugh unravels it superbly.”

One reader of Lines and Shadows said, “A realistic journey into the forbidden zones of our border lands with Mexico. Mr. Wambaugh's skill as a writer takes the reader on a nerve-wracking, hair-standing trip into the danger zone traversed every night by the illegal immigrants. A must read for all Wambaugh fans and a good starting place for those who wish to become fans.”

One reader of Finnegan's Week said, “Wambaugh has a flair for scriptwriting equal to Quinton Tarantino at his best. He's brutal, sly, topical, sharp, intense and outrageous all at the same time. This novel can be a bit silly at times, but never does it become stale. "Finnegan's Week" should appeal to readers of a wide variety of tastes, and I'm surprised that Wambaugh doesn't have a larger following than he has. His plots weave in and out, and he always finds a unique way to bring it all together at the end. His razor-sharp wit sets him apart from the rest of the thriller writers out there. A great, fun read with a superior style.”

Hollywood Station
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

Hollywood Crows: A Novel
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

The New Centurions
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

Echoes in the Darkness
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

Finnegan's Week
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

The Golden Orange
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

Lines and Shadows
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

The Black Marble
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

The Blue Knight
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

The Choirboys
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

The Secrets of Harry Bright (03968)
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

The Onion Field
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

Fire Lover
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

Fugitive Nights
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

The Glitter Dome
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

Joseph Wambaugh  More Info
The Blooding: True Story of the Narborough Village Murders
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info
The Delta Star
Joseph Wambaugh  More Info

The Library Journal said of The Blooding, “Wambaugh, best known for his books dealing with American crime and detection, here tells the engrossing story of two British sex murders and the police hunt for the killer. The title stems from a procedure of genetic fingerprinting detected by examining blood samples, and used by the police to catch the murderer. Armed with the new discovery for detection, the police launched a massive drive to "fingerprint" men in the Narborough village area. Wambaugh gives an inside look at the police and their intense and, at last, successful drive to catch the murderer. He also discusses the process, and some of its limitless possibilities. An excellent account of murder, detection, and this amazing scientific discovery.”

One reader of The Blooding said, “A fifteen year old girl is raped and strangled, her body left along a footpath near an English Village called Narborough. Though a massive effort is launch to find the killer, he remains at large for years. Then the Killer strikes three years after the first murder, killing another young girl in the same brutal fashion, and leaving her body only a short distance from the first. The police do not give up, but this man continually evades detection until several years later Scotland Yard comes a calling with a new tool: DNA. The first time its was used to solve a police case, and to actually track a killer not just to reinforce a case. In a very controversial move, nearly 4000 men in and around the town of Narborough are tested, everyone from teen to old man are 'blooded' meaning their DNA of their blood is tested against the samples of the killer. Never has any police force taken such a massive Orwellian move, compelling every male able to commit the crime to come forward for testing. Even so, the killer continually evades being blooded, but it was a matter of time and dogged police work. Warbaugh's best work since The Onion Field, may be uncomfortable for some people because of the details of the murders etc, others - believers of the right of individual - will be upset with the Orwellian dragnet, but its a fascinating detailed account that often compels as repels in the same breath.”

One reader said of the Delta Star, “This is Joseph Wambaugh at his best, humorous, suspenseful, and sympathetic to his police characters while not shying away from their faults, foibles, and flaws. In one of his better mysteries, the cops of Rampart Station try to solve the connections between a Nobel Prize, a Russian submarine, a useless credit card, a dead hooker and a similarly deceased sleazy private eye.

Detective Mario Villalobos tries to solve the murder of a young hooker named "Missy Moonbeam" by day while spending his nights drowning his sorrows with a typical Wambaugh cast of police and groupie characters at Leery's Saloon. Larger than life characters such as "The Bad Czech", "Jane Wayne", Ludwig the police dog, and the "Gooned Out Vice Cop" all make appearances. The thing is Wambaugh makes you actually care about these people and their situations. It is obvious that the former policeman turned author still understands and feels a great empathy and affection for the men and women who police our "mean streets".

Villalobos is one of his better drawn characters. A burned out man who drinks too much, he still possesses some great police instincts, and he is not so far gone as some of the suicidal main characters of Wambaugh's darker novels, such THE SECRETS OF HARRY BRIGHT or THE GLITTER DOME. A mixture of serendipitous luck and good police work lead to a surprising twist of a conclusion, but as with most of Wambaugh's best books, the journey and the whacky cast of characters one encounters along the way is actually more important than the destination itself.”

Kirkus reviews said of The Secrets of Harry Bright, Sidney Blackpool, another divorced, alcoholic Wambaugh homicide detective with the L.A.P.D. whose son Tommy died in a surfing accident a year ago, is plucked from his familiar environs and set down in windy, sand-blasted Mineral Springs, the scratchy underbelly of chi-chi Palm Springs, and promised a very cushy retirement job if he can uncover the likely murderer of multimillionaire Victor Watson's playboy son Jack, who was found burned to a crisp in the desert, with a bullet in his skull. After 17 months of no-leads, the Palm Springs P.D. draws only yawns on the case. But Victor Watson wants to know who his son's killer is. And he is counting on the bond of rage between fathers who have lost sons to push Blackpool to success. As ever in Wambaugh, every plot-turn occurs through a ton of sheer padding, albeit very engaging padding, a kind of relentlessly black-minded absurdism that replaces mere realism and logic. Blackpool's gaily roistering sidekick Otto Stringer thinks his buddy is an an hedonist, someone incurably unfun-loving. Their investigation involves them with the nearby Mineral Springs P.D., an outhouse outfit of nine dumb heads who are Keystone Kop screw-ups of the first water, among them overweight Chief Paco Pedroza, who is a sexist pig with jelly tits and a mustard yellow aloha shirt. These cartoon police clinkers were all hired into the Mineral Springs P.D. by Sergeant Harry Bright, the Chief's confidant and keeper of the secrets arising from their force's sublime ineptitude. But Blackpool and Stringer gradually discover certain irregularities about Harry Bright that cast a dark cloud over the man - who in any event has been in a coma for several months following a stroke and a heart attack. Oddly enough, Harry Bright has also lost a son - and is a drunk. "Well, you know how it is in police work. There's a guy or two at every station. Whiskey face, whiskey voice, whiskey eyes, but they always show up to work on time. Always have a shoeshine and a pressed uniform. Always do a job. That was Sergeant Bright." And therein also lies the essence of the secret of Harry Bright, the grieving alcoholic father who is now the pressed shell of duty and yet - having lost a son - is capable of forgiving and taking in the lost sons of the varied California police departments. Despite his black humor and sometimes out-loud funny moments, Wambaugh winds up with a fairly serious novel, with rich Christian symbolism in Harry Bright. The force of alcohol addiction and the essence of self deception in the disease are brought home strongly.”

Publisher’s Weekly said of Hollywood Station, “Wambaugh's outstanding new novel, his first in a decade, is not only a return to form but a return to his LAPD roots. Times have sure changed since the 1970s, the setting for some of Wambaugh's best earlier works such as The New Centurions and The Onion Field. Grossly understaffed, the officers of Hollywood Station find themselves writing bogus field interviews with nonexistent white suspects in minority neighborhoods to avoid allegations of racial profiling. Crystal meth rules the streets, and crackheads and glass freaks dressed in costume (Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Darth Vader, Elmo) work the tourist strip, bumming money for their next fix. With an impressive array of police characters, from surfer dude partners "Flotsam" and "Jetsam" to aspiring actor "Hollywood" Nate Weiss and single mother Budgie Polk, Wambaugh creates a realistic microcosm of the modern-day LAPD. Today's crop of crime writers, including Michael Connelly and George Pelecanos, obviously owe a debt to Wambaugh. The master proves that he can still deliver.”

One reader of Hollywood Station said, “Under the watchful eye of the Sergeant they call the Oracle, the members of Hollywood Station go forth each day to protect and serve the diverse population of Hollywood, never knowing what the day will bring.

One shift, they might have to referee a dispute between Spider-Man and Batman. On another, they might stumble upon a robbery scene where a bound and gagged victim is nervously squeezing a live grenade between his legs in an effort to keep it from going off. On yet another shift, one of their number might be severely beaten at the end of an otherwise quiet sting operation. Despite the uncertainty they face, they do it day after day, year in and year out.

Rich in colorful incident, at times laugh out loud funny, at times achingly poignant, Hollywood Station marks the triumphant return of Joseph Wambaugh to the police procedural. Portraying a police department under fire from within and without, Wambaugh gives the reader insights into the people who do this often thankless job; his cops are tired, and grouchy, and quick tempered, but above all, they're human, dealing with high pressure situations on a daily basis, always subject to surprise. Eschewing political correctness in his search for the truth, Wambaugh emphasizes that humanity in all its glory and tragedy, producing one of the most memorable books of 2006, a worthy successor to previous classics like The Blue Knight and The Choirboys. As the estimable Ray Bradbury says in his blurb, "Bravo.”

One reader of The Glitter Dome said, “The Glitter Dome is a good way to start the Wambaugh adventure. More humor than The Choir Boys and less preaching than the latter. Laughs abound on nearly every page ending the story on a somber note. A delightful read which is episodic, easy to put down when the occasion requires it but easy to pick up later when the schedule allows. Wambaugh's character development and dialogue combine as his strong suit. Nicknames and physical characteristics are a very close second. Collectively, the characters dance before your eyes and tell their stories in a most delightful fashion.”

One reader of The Golden Orange said, “In reading the previous reviews, I think this book has not been given it's due. I have read the book several times for the humor found within it. I have been a police officer for 26 years and found The Golden Orange to be full of police humor from the first chapter to the last. The lead character leads the life of a pensioned out officer who is constantly battling his past using alcohol and levity to ease that past. Wambaugh molds every character into ones we can all relate to. The police characters are no doubt taken from Wambaugh's experience as police officer from the cynical old timers to the optimistic green rookies. There are FEW books I would recommend as highly as this one for action, mystery and real belly laughs. I only wish he had 100 more like it.”

One reader of Floaters said, “This is my second experience reading Wambaugh, the first being "The Golden Orange". Wambaugh's strength lies in his sharp, cynical, sarcastic and blackly humerous use of language. I laughed out loud at his witty and dark brand of humor. His command of the English language and cynical look at Americana seen through the eyes of cops and robbers is worth the price of admission alone. This novel works mostly through his style, and the plot is greatly enhanced through his wordplay. I learned more about Americas Cup racing than I ever wanted to know, yet was never bored throughout "Floaters". A lesser writer might not have been able to make such a plot work, since the finale is laced with coincidence and irony, yet Wambaugh's style more than makes up for any potentially lame plot twists. This is not to say that the plot is poor or predictable; it's neither. But the fact is that few writers would be able to pull off such a tale.”

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