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3.6 3
by Joseph Wambaugh

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Who else but Joseph Wambaugh could write "a joy, a hoot, a riot of a book" that is also acclaimed as "one of this season's best crime novels"? That's how
The New York Times Book Review and Time, respectively, described his last novel, Finnegan's Week. Nobody writes a faster, funnier, more satisfying tale of cops and


Who else but Joseph Wambaugh could write "a joy, a hoot, a riot of a book" that is also acclaimed as "one of this season's best crime novels"? That's how
The New York Times Book Review and Time, respectively, described his last novel, Finnegan's Week. Nobody writes a faster, funnier, more satisfying tale of cops and criminals, the high life and lowlifes that Wambaugh—and Floaters is his sharpest yet.

Mick Fortney and his partner Leeds manage to cruise above the standard police stress-pools of coffee and Pepto-Bismol—they're water cops in the "Club Harbor Unit," manning a patrol boat on San Diego's Mission Bay. A typically rough day's detail consists of scoping out body-sculpted beauties on pleasure craft, rescuing boating bozos who've run aground, jeering at lifeguards, and hauling in the occasional floater who comes to the surface.

But now their days are anything but typical, because the America's Cup international sailing regattas have come to town and suddenly San Diego is swarming with yacht crazies of every nationality, the cuppies who want to love them, and the looky-look tourists, racing spies, scam artists, and hookers who all want their piece of the action. It's the outstanding body and jaunty smile—full of mischief, full of hell—of one cuppie, a particularly fiery redhead named Blaze, that gets Leeds and Fortney's attention. First Leeds drowns in frustratingly unrequited boozy love from afar. Then, with her increasingly odd behavior, Blaze tweaks every one of their cop instincts, alerting them that something's not quite right on the waterfront.

Indeed, Blaze will soon lead Detective Anne Zorn and Mick Fortney along a bizarre criminal trail that would be hilarious if it didn't wind up just as nasty as it gets, with a pair of murders right on the eve of the biggest sailing race of all.

Filled with all of Joseph Wambaugh's trademark skills—laugh-out-loud writing, crackling dialogue, outrageous excitement, and, of course, plenty of raunchy veteran cops who leap off the page—Floaters is Wambaugh at the very to of his form.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Joseph Wambaugh's Finnegan's Week:

"A master storyteller...Wambaugh dazzles." — Digby Diehl, Playboy

"Funny, exciting, and ultimately touching." —Chicago Tribune

"One of the best novels Joseph Wambaugh has written...Wambaugh is in rare form." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Wambaugh is at the top of his form here...raunchy and often hilarious." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wrote PW, "the police work is, as always, authentic" in this thriller involving the America's Cup regatta. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In Wambaugh's (The Golden Orange, Morrow, 1992) latest, San Diego cops investigate murder during the America's Cup.
Kirkus Reviews
Fun-loving cop-novelist Wambaugh (Finnegan's Week, 1993, etc.) centers his latest San Diego police procedural around the international America's Cup regatta off Mission Bay and, as ever, comes up with a taut tale larded with raunchy dialogue.

Two stories intertwine to give Wambaugh plenty of rope for a sailboat suspenser set mostly on dry land. First come the adventures of redheaded Blaze Duvall, a call-girl masseuse who gets involved with snobby bachelor Ambrose Lutterworth Jr., a 63-year-old client who happens to be the Keeper of the Cup—now likely to go to the Australian sailing team, which clearly has the faster boats. Mother-haunted Ambrose loves the very costly Cup as if it were the Holy Grail and lures Blaze into helping him keep it: His plan is to wreck the swifter of the Aussie's two boats while it's in dry dock. Meanwhile, Blaze's speedballing buddy, street hooker Dawn Coyote, flees her pimp, Oliver Mantleberry, but not fast enough to avoid Oliver's knifeblade. When Dawn dies on Blaze's front walk and Blaze disappears, horny vice cop Letch Boggs and aging homicide detective Anne Zorn team up to nab the elusive Oliver. Mission Bay water cops Mick Fortney and his sidekick Leeds are seemingly meant to carry this tale, and they do come upon two bodies in the water (floaters), but their work on water or land has almost nothing to do with the plot's outcome—nor do they. Instead, these nonstop jokesters hang about bars where the Aussies blow off stress with booze and boasting. The author's descriptive powers get full play at last when the climax moves aboard a fabulous pleasure yacht.

No dimming of Wambaugh's storytelling skills or flow of smut. But his cop raunch, while amusing, has begun to pale.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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4.15(w) x 6.05(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Ambrose Lutterworth didn't have to go hunting for Blaze Duvall. She showed up on his doorstep at 7:10 P.M., dressed not in the tailored look he preferred for their encounters and not in the sexy sailboat- casual she'd affected for her cuppie appearances. Blaze was wearing a green, hip- belted leather miniskirt, a shortsleeved, black turtleneck and low-heeled Gucci boots.

For once she was dressed the way she wanted to dress rather than being costumed for men who, in one way or another, were all just clients.

Ambrose pecked her on the cheek and said, "My, you look...different."

"Not your style, I know. But I felt like wearing it."

"No! I mean, you look beautiful. You always look beautiful."

"I'll wear a longer skirt for our dinner date," Blaze reassured him.

"No, you look wonderful. Really."

"Do you have the drug?"

"Yes, let's sit down for a minute."

Ambrose led the way into the living room, where he and Blaze sat side by side on the old sofa. Two bundles wrapped in notebook paper were on the coffee table. He opened one of them carefully and showed her the powder.

"It took me a while to mash the tablets," he said. "If you empty one of these into his drink...By the way, what does he drink?"

"Beer. What else would those guys drink?"

"Okay, one of these will do it. You said he's a very big man?"


"I've done some discreet checking with my pharmacist and my late mother's doctor. I think a gram of this will guarantee that even a big man won't be ready to run machinery the next day."

"What is it?"


"We don't wanna kill him."

"It won't kill him, but he'll have the mother of all hangovers."

"But he'll be okay, right?"

"Do I look like a murderer?"

Blaze hesitated, then said, "No, you don't look anything at all like any murderer I've seen lately."

"Actually it's a little more than a gram," Ambrose said. "I crushed eleven of the hundred-milligram tablets."

"What's in the other paper?"

"Same thing. Just in case something goes wrong with the first one. But, for God's sake, don't give him both!"

"Don't worry."

"And you have no fears about Simon Cooke?"

"None at all. I owe him."

"You didn't have to...do anything with him, did you?"

"Don't be silly, Ambrose. Can you imagine me in bed with someone like that?"

"No, of course not."

"Okay, I guess I'm ready."

"I'll have the money tomorrow afternoon. Twenty- five thousand. You know, I'm surprised Simon didn't make a demand of good faith. Didn't he ever ask for some money up front to prove our reliability?"

"I wouldn't have given him any front money. I don't trust him that much. But don't worry. I told you, I own him."

"You could own a lot of men, Blaze," Ambrose said.

"Wait up tonight, darling," Blaze said. "I'll phone you with a detailed report as soon as I get back to my hotel."


"Oh, didn't I tell you? Termites. Thirteen hundred bucks a month and I have to cope with termites. We've all had to move out for two days while they fumigate."

"Which hotel are you in?"

"That darling little place on Shelter Island. I selected it so I could be close to the sailor hangouts." Then she added, "And close to you. I like being close to you, Ambrose."

He was touched. He smiled and kissed her lightly, not wanting to smudge her lipstick. But he couldn't resist just touching her lips with the tip of his tongue. Blaze Duvall even tasted young.

What People are Saying About This

Jonathan Kellerman
"There's only one Joe Wambaugh. He's a really important American writer."

Meet the Author

A former police officer, Joseph Wambaugh puts his experience to good use when crafting his mystery and suspense novels, which have been praised for their authenticity and complex characterization. The author of more than twenty books, Wambaugh writes both fiction and non-fiction. His non-fiction book, The Onion Field, was hailed by The New York Times as "a complex story of tragic proportions... more ambitious than In Cold Blood and equally compelling!"

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Floaters 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Floaters is not a bad novel, nor is it a memorable one. The plot is entertaining but far from original (you know, like a rerun of Miami Vice.) The best part is the ending. Wambaugh is one of the few authors who can actually write a plausible ending. It's the kind of book to bring on vacation or for a long airplane ride. That way if you happen to leave it on the beach or in seat B3, mourning the loss will only be temporary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Another solid entry for Joseph Wambaugh. His dialogue remains top notch and the story has a good ending. Not his best, but still an entertaining read.