I'ts been a very long time since I've read Wambaugh, but I have very fond memories of "The New Centurions" and "The Onion Field". This book is not in their league. I will say it is certainly a page turner, and that Wambaugh fills "Hollywood Station" with entertaining and probably true anecdotes of life on the streets of Hollywood, but when it comes to the main plot involving Russians, Armenians, a couple of robberies and a couple of meth heads; the novel really falls apart. Not to say the characters and situations aren't interesting, they are. It's just that every one of the Eastern Europeans speaks like Boris Badanov from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Wambaughs's dialogue is laughably bad, though arguably meant to be laughable I suppose. And then there are the surfer dudes with nicknames of "Floatsam and Jetsam". I can't even think of a cultural icon shallow enough to compare them to. Beavis and Butthead perhaps.
It does not work. Wambaugh's reputation as a writer is someone who creates gritty true to life characters. Humor abounds amongst the ugly goings on in his cops lives (except for maybe the non-fiction Onion Field), but the humor here never strikes a chord of truth. Some of the other characters, the older ones that feel alien to the younger generation of cops in particular, are much more realistic than the the characters that I described earlier. It is as if Wambaugh himself feels way outside the current culture of the LAPD as opposed to when he wrote about it 35 years ago as either a cop or a recently retired cop turned writer.
Maybe that is why his pen has quieted down in recent years, perhaps even he realizes the problem. Whatever the reason, I won't argue the fact that this is an entertaining page turner; but it is far from realistic. A majority of the dialogue and characterizations are surprisingly sophmoric.
If you enjoy "insider" cop stories, you will probably like this one. It's classic Wambaugh, along the lines of a previous novel The Choirboys. The characters are fully developed and quite believable, as only Wambaugh can do.
Wambaugh is back with this cops & robbers tale set in Hollywood, where a couple of tweakers get involved with a jewel heist, a dummy hand grenade, a passel of Russian gangsters, and way more trouble than they bargained for.
For a cop, a night on the job means killing time and trying not to get killed. If you're a cop in Hollywood Division, it also means dealing with the most overwrought, desperate, and deluded criminals anywhere. When you're patrolling Sunset and Hoollywood Boulevards, neither a good reputation nor the lessons of scaldals past will help you keep your cool, your sanity, or your life when things heat up.