Hollywood Crows (Hollywood Station Series #2)

Hollywood Crows (Hollywood Station Series #2)

by Joseph Wambaugh

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Hollywood Crows (Hollywood Station Series #2) by Joseph Wambaugh

A super follow-up to Hollywood Station, Wambaugh returns to the beat he knows best, taking readers on a darkly funny ride-along with a cast of flawed LAPD cops and eccentric lowlifes you won't forget.
When LAPD cops Hollywood Nate and Bix Rumstead find themselves caught up with bombshell Margot Aziz, they think they're just having some fun. But in Hollywood, nothing is ever what it seems. To them, Margot is a harmless socialite, stuck in the middle of an ugly divorce from the nefarious nightclub-owner Ali Aziz. What Nate and Bix don't know is that Margot's no helpless victim: the femme fatale is setting them both up. But Ms. Aziz isn't the only one with a deadly plan.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316032346
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 03/25/2008
Series: Hollywood Station Series , #2
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 84,235
File size: 406 KB

About the Author

Joseph Wambaugh, a former LAPD detective sergeant, is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of seventeen previous works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Choirboys and The Onion Field. In 2004, he was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. He lives in southern California.

Read an Excerpt

Hollywood Crows

A Novel

By Joseph Wambaugh
Little, Brown
Copyright © 2008

Joseph Wambaugh
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-316-02528-7

Chapter One DUDE, YOU BETTER drop that long knife," the tall, suntanned cop said. At Hollywood Station they called him "Flotsam" by virtue of his being a surfing enthusiast.

His shorter partner, also with a major tan, hair even more suspiciously blond and sun streaked, dubbed "Jetsam" for the same reason, said, sotto voce, "Bro, that ain't a knife. That's a bayonet, in case you can't see too good. And why didn't you check out a Taser and a beanbag gun from the kit room, is what I'd like to know. That's what the DA's office and FID are gonna ask if we have to light him up. Like, 'Why didn't you officers use nonlethal force?' Like, 'Why'd that Injun have to bite the dust when you coulda captured him alive?' That's what they'll say."

"I thought you checked them out and put them in the trunk. You walked toward the kit room."

"No, I went to the john. And you were too busy ogling Ronnie to know where I was at," Jetsam said. "Your head was somewheres else. You gotta keep your mind in the game, bro."

Everyone on the midwatch at Hollywood Station knew that Jetsam had a megacrush on Officer Veronica "Ronnie" Sinclair and got torqued when Flotsam or anybody else flirted with her. In any case, both surfer cops considered it sissified to carry a Taser on their belts.

Referring to section 5150 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, which all cops used to describe a mental case, Flotsam whispered, "Maybe this fifty-one-fifty's trashed on PCP, so we couldn't taze him anyways. He'd swat those darts outta him like King Kong swatted the airplanes. So just chill. He ain't even giving us the stink eye. He just maybe thinks he's a wooden Indian or something."

"Or maybe we're competing with a bunch of other voices he's hearing and they're scarier," Jetsam observed. "Maybe we're just echoes."

They'd gotten nowhere by yelling the normal commands to the motionless Indian, a stooped man in his early forties, only a decade older than they were but with a haggard face, beaten down by life. And while the cops waited for the backup they'd requested, they'd begun speaking to him in quiet voices, barely audible in the unlit alley over the traffic noise on Melrose Avenue. It was there that 6-X-46 had chased and cornered him, a few blocks from Paramount Studios, from where the code 2 call had come.

The Indian had smashed a window of a boutique to steal a plus-size gold dress with a handkerchief hemline and a red one with an empire waist. He'd squeezed into the red dress and walked to the Paramount main gate, where he'd started chanting gibberish and, perhaps prophetically, singing "Jailhouse Rock" before demanding admittance from a startled security officer who had dialed 9-1-1.

"These new mini-lights ain't worth a shit," Jetsam said, referring to the small flashlights that the LAPD bought and issued to all officers ever since a widely viewed videotaped arrest showed an officer striking a combative black suspect with his thirteen-inch aluminum flashlight, which caused panic in the media and in the police commission and resulted in the firing of the Latino officer.

After this event, new mini-flashlights that couldn't cause harm to combative suspects unless they ate them were ordered and issued to new recruits. Everything was fine with the police commission and the cop critics except that the high-intensity lights set the rubber sleeves on fire and almost incinerated a few rookies before the Department recalled all of those lights and ordered these new ten-ouncers.

Jetsam said, "Good thing that cop used flashlight therapy instead of smacking the vermin with a gun. We'd all be carrying two-shot derringers by now."

Flotsam's flashlight seemed to better illuminate the Indian, who stood staring up white-eyed at the starless smog-shrouded sky, his back to the graffiti-painted wall of a two-story commercial building owned by Iranians, leased by Vietnamese. The Indian may have chosen the red dress because it matched his flip-flops. The gold dress lay crumpled on the asphalt by his dirt-encrusted feet, along with the cut-offs he'd been wearing when he'd done the smash-and-grab.

So far, the Indian hadn't threatened them in any way. He just stood like a statue, his breathing shallow, the bayonet held down against his bare left thigh, which was fully exposed. He'd sliced the slit in the red dress clear up to his flank, either for more freedom of movement or to look more provocative.

"Dude," Flotsam said to the Indian, holding his Glock nine in the flashlight beam so the Indian could observe that it was pointed right at him, "I can see that you're spun out on something. My guess is you been doing crystal meth, right? And maybe you just wanted an audition at Paramount and didn't have any nice dresses to wear to it. I can sympathize with that too. I'm willing to blame it on Oscar de la Renta or whoever made the fucking things so alluring. But you're gonna have to drop that long knife now or pretty soon they're gonna be drawing you in chalk on this alley."

Jetsam, whose nine was also pointed at the ponytailed Indian, whispered to his partner, "Why do you keep saying long knife to this zombie instead of bayonet?"

"He's an Indian," Flotsam whispered back. "They always say long knife in the movies."

"That refers to us white men!" Jetsam said. "We're the fucking long knives!"

"Whatever," said Flotsam. "Where's our backup, anyhow? They coulda got here on skateboards by now."

When Flotsam reached tentatively for the pepper-spray canister on his belt, Jetsam said, "Uncool, bro. Liquid Jesus ain't gonna work on a meth-monster. It only works on cops. Which you proved the time you hit me with act-right spray instead of the '-roided-up primate I was doing a death dance with."

"You still aggro over that?" Flotsam said, remembering how Jetsam had writhed in pain after getting the blast of OC spray full in the face while they and four other cops swarmed the hallucinating bodybuilder who was paranoid from mixing recreational drugs with steroids. "Shit happens, dude. You can hold a grudge longer than my ex-wife."

In utter frustration, Jetsam finally said quietly to the Indian, "Bro, I'm starting to think you're running a game on us. So you either drop that bayonet right now or the medicine man's gonna be waving chicken claws over your fucking ashes."

Taking the cue, Flotsam stepped forward, his pistol aimed at the Indian's pustule-covered face, damp with sweat on this warm night, eyes rolled back, features strangely contorted in the flashlight beams. And the tall cop said just as quietly, "Dude, you're circling the drain. We're dunzo here."

Jetsam put his flashlight in his sap pocket, nowadays a cell-phone pocket, since saps had become LAPD artifacts, extended his pistol in both hands, and said to the Indian, "Happy trails, pard. Enjoy your dirt nap."

That did it. The Indian dropped the bayonet and Flotsam said, "Turn and face the wall and interlace your fingers behind your head!"

The Indian turned and faced the wall, but he obviously did not understand "interlace."

Jetsam said, "Cross your fingers behind your head!"

The Indian crossed his middle fingers over his index fingers and held them up behind his head.

"No, dude!" Flotsam said. "I didn't ask you to make a fucking wish, for chrissake!"

"Never mind!" Jetsam said, pulling the Indian's hands down and cuffing them behind his back.

Finally the Indian spoke. He said, "Do you guys have a candy bar I could buy from you? I'll give you five dollars for a candy bar."

When Jetsam was walking the Indian to their car, the prisoner said, "Ten. I'll give you ten bucks. I'll pay you when I get outta jail."

After stopping at a liquor store to buy their meth-addled, candy-craving arrestee a Nutter Butter, they drove him to Hollywood Station and put him in an interview room, cuffing one wrist to a chair so he could still eat his candy. The night-watch D2, a lazy sensitivity-challenged detective known as "Compassionate" Charlie Gilford, was annoyed at being pulled away from shows like American Idol, which he watched on a little TV he kept concealed in the warren of work cubicles the size of airline restrooms, where he sat for hours on a rubber donut. He loved to watch the panels brutalize the hapless contestants.

The detective was wearing a short-sleeved, wrinkled white shirt and one of his discount neckties, a dizzying checkerboard of blues and yellows. Everyone said his ties were louder than Mötley Crüe, and even older. Charlie got fatigued listening to the story of the window smash on Melrose, the serenade to the guard at Paramount Studios' main gate, the foot chase by the surfer cops, and the subsequent eerie confrontation, all of which Flotsam described as "weird."

He said to them, "Weird? This ain't weird." And then he uttered the phrase that one heard every night around the station when things seemed too surreal to be true: "Man, this is fucking Hollywood!" After that, there was usually no need for further comment.

But Charlie decided to elaborate: "Last year the midwatch busted a goony tweaker totally naked except for a pink tutu. He was waving a samurai sword on Sunset Boulevard when they took him down. That was weird. This ain't shit."

When he spotted the acronym for American Indian Movement tattooed on the prisoner's shoulder, he touched it with a pencil and said, "What's that mean, chief? Assholes in Moccasins?"

The Indian just sat munching on the Nutter Butter, eyes shut in utter bliss.

Then the cranky detective sucked his teeth and said to the arresting officers, "And by the way, you just had to feed him chocolate, huh? This tweaker don't have enough speed bumps?"

To the Indian he said, "Next time you feel like breaking into show business, take a look in the mirror. With that mug, you only got one option. Buy a hockey mask and try singing 'Music of the Night.'"

"I'll give you twenty bucks for another Nutter Butter," the Indian finally said to Compassionate Charlie Gilford. "And I'll confess to any crime you got."

Nathan Weiss, called Hollywood Nate by the other cops because of his obsession, recently waning, to break into the movie business, had left Watch 5, the midwatch, eight months earlier, shortly after the very senior sergeant known as the Oracle had died of a massive heart attack there on the police Walk of Fame in front of Hollywood Station. Nothing was the same on the midwatch after they lost the Oracle. Hollywood Nate had been pulled out of trouble, usually involving women, and spared from disciplinary action more than once by the grizzled forty-six-year veteran supervisor, who had died just short of his sixty-ninth birthday.

Everyone said it was fitting that the Oracle had died on that Walk, where stars honoring Hollywood Division officers killed on duty were embedded in marble and brass just as they were for movie stars on Hollywood Boulevard. The Oracle had been their star, an anachronism from another era of policing, from long before the Rodney King riots and Rampart Division evidence-planting scandal. Long before the LAPD had agreed to a Department of Justice "consent decree" and gotten invaded by federal judges and lawyers and politicians and auditors and overseers and media critics. Back when the cops could be guided by proactive leaders, not reactive bureaucrats more fearful of the federal overseers and local politicians than of the street criminals. The day after the Oracle died, Nathan Weiss had gone to temple, the first time in fifteen years, to say Kaddish for the old sergeant.

All of them, street cops and supervisors, were now smothered in paperwork designed to prove that they were "reforming" a police force of more than ninety-five hundred souls who ostensibly needed reforming because of the actions of half a dozen convicted cops from both incidents combined. Hundreds of sworn officers had been taken from street duties to manage the paper hurricane resulting from the massive "reformation." The consent decree hanging over the LAPD was to expire in two more years, but they'd heard that before and knew it could be extended. Like the war in Iraq, it seemed that it would never end.

The Oracle had been replaced by a university-educated twenty-eight-year-old with a degree in political science who'd rocketed almost to the top of the promotion list with little more than six years of experience, not to mention overcoming disadvantages of race and gender. Sergeant Jason Treakle was a white male, and that wasn't helpful in the diversity-obsessed city of Los Angeles, where fifty-five languages were spoken by students in the school district.

Hollywood Nate called Sergeant Treakle's roll call speeches a perfect meld of George Bush's garbled syntax and the tin ear of Al Gore. During those sessions Nate could hear cartilage crackling from all the chins bouncing off chests as the troops failed to stay awake and upright. He'd hated the rookie sergeant's guts the first time they'd met, when Sergeant Treakle criticized Nate in front of the entire assembly for referring to Officer Ronnie Sinclair as a "very cool chick." Ronnie took it as a compliment, but Sergeant Treakle found it demeaning and sexist.

Then, during an impromptu inspection, he'd frowned upon Hollywood Nate's scuffed shoes. He'd pointed at Nate's feet with an arm that didn't look long enough for his body, saying the shoes made Nate look "unkempt," and suggested that Nate try spit-shining them. Sergeant Treakle was big on spit shines, having spent six months in the ROTC at his university. Because of his knife-blade mouth, the cops soon referred to him as "Chickenlips."

Hollywood Nate, like his idol, the Oracle, had always worn ordinary black rubber-soled shoes with his uniform. He liked to needle the cops who wore expensive over-the-ankle boots to look more paramilitary but then experienced sweaty feet, foot fungus, and diminished running speed. Nate would ask them if their spit-shined boots made it easier to slog through all the snow and ice storms on Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards.

And Hollywood Nate had given up suggesting that field training officers stop making the new P1 probationers call them sir or ma'am, as most did. The more rigid and GI of the FTOs seemed to be those who'd never served in the military and they wouldn't think of letting their probies wear the gung-ho boots before finishing their eighteen-month probation. Nate would privately tell the rookies to forget about boots, that their feet would thank them for it. And Nate never forgot that the Oracle had never spit-shined his shoes.

Before the midwatch hit the streets, every cop would ritually touch the picture of the Oracle for luck, even new officers who'd never known him. It hung on the wall by the door of the roll call room. In the photo their late sergeant was in uniform, his retro gray crew cut freshly trimmed, smiling the way he'd always done, more with his smart blue eyes than with his mouth. The brass plate on the frame simply said:





Hollywood Nate, like all the others, had tapped the picture frame before leaving roll call on the first evening he'd met his new sergeant. Then he'd gone straight downstairs to the watch commander's office and asked to be reassigned to the day watch, citing a multitude of personal and even health reasons, all of them lies. It had seemed to Nate that an era had truly ended. The Oracle-the kind of cop Nate told everyone he had wanted to be when he grew up-had been replaced by a politically correct, paper-shuffling little putz with dwarfish arms, no lips, and a shoe fetish.

At first, Hollywood Nate wasn't fond of Watch 2, the early day watch, certainly not the part where he had to get up before 5 A.M. and speed from his one-bedroom apartment in the San Fernando Valley to Hollywood Station, change into his uniform, and be ready for 0630 roll call. He didn't like that at all. But he did like the hours of the 3/12 work shift. On Watch 2, the patrol officers worked three twelve-hour days a week during their twenty-eight-day deployment periods, making up one day at the end. That gave Nate four days a week to attend cattle calls and harangue casting agents, now that he'd earned enough vouchers to get his Screen Actors Guild card, which he carried in his badge wallet right behind his police ID.

So far, he'd gotten only one speaking part, two lines of dialogue, in a TV movie that was co-produced by an over-the-hill writer/director he'd met during one of the red carpet events at the Kodak Center, where Nate was tasked with crowd control. Nate won over that director by body blocking an anti-fur protester in a sweaty tank top before she could shove one of those "I'd Rather Go Naked" signs at the director's wife, who was wearing a faux-mink stole.

Nate sealed the deal and got the job when he told the hairy protester he'd hate to see her naked and added, "If wearing fur is a major crime, why don't you scrape those pits?"


Excerpted from Hollywood Crows by Joseph Wambaugh Copyright © 2008 by Joseph Wambaugh. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Hollywood Crows (Hollywood Station Series #2) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
MarvinH85 More than 1 year ago
Another great Hollywood novel from Joseph Wambaugh. Hollywood Crows is full of lovable miscreants, street people, flawed cops, and despicable villains all roaming the streets of the city of magic and lights. As Wambaugh would put it: F###ing Hollywood! He keeps you coming back and this one is no exception.
Lauraley More than 1 year ago
Joseph Wambaugh's books based on his experience are thrilling and suspenseful from the beginning to the end he continually holds your interest. If it's a Wambaugh book you know it's a good one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed with this book, I bought it the first week it was out and then put it on my favorites shelf I was waiting to reading it because I thought it would be so good that like other of his books I would be sad when I read the last page, but I was so very sad this book was so weak that there are better police stories on television --- I hope new readers don't let this book turn them from his other books, they are really great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Different look at what the cops go through as Community Resource Officers.(CROWS) Wambaugh takes you through a good story, with great characters, who will make you laugh and make you mad, and make you cry. Good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love his stories, especially the police practical jokes. I always wonder if he made them up or they actually happened and he included them.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Crows is the best story J W has ever written. A complicated plot with interwoven characters told so well you finish it and say wow. The cops are believable in thier personal lives and the happiness and sadness that befalls them. The street mopes described can be found in any big city today as can the coniving greedy "beautiful people" and rich immigrants. Trust me people I did 21 years on the steets of an east coast city but scumballs dont change by location, this story is great.
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marcross More than 1 year ago
I love the Hollywood Station series. It's gritty and real. Always wanted to visit, but Wambaugh is the next best thing! (And safer!)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rediscovering Wambaugh. Great storyteller. He uses his personal connections with LA and San Diego police to gather great stories that. Ust be stra ge but true, and he obviously listens well. I like the anecdotes woven into the storyline. I am anxious to read #3 in the series.
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Oscar Campbell More than 1 year ago
Cops really like inside jokes it seems. You may like them too! Like the Community Relations Officers called Crows!
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I always enjoyed reading Joseph Wambaugh's books (The Choirboys, The Onion Field, Blue Knight). I love the characters he creates. Yes, the plot wasn't that great in this book, but I just like the little scenarios he puts the characters in. I laughed out loud! Very funny.
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