Friday, July 30, 2010


I've mentioned before that I love Joseph Wambaugh's writing, even some of his more mediocre books can entertain me in some way or another. This is the case with "Floaters." Published in 1996, "Floaters" is a little outdated in terms of pop culture and political references but the novel still remains strong in character interactions, most notably dialogue. From Wambaugh's website:

"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-loo 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 names 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 leggy 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 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 top of his form."

The description above pretty much sums up the novel. Wambaugh certainly has a way with cop talk and dialogue interjected into the storyline. Several character storylines all slowly come together toward the book's climatic, yet hurried conclusion. I would recommend this book and just about anything written by Wambaugh for no other reasons but his great skill at character conversations and bringing to life the burnt out middle aged cop. I also found the in and outs of the America's Cup competition surprisingly interesting. Not Wambaugh's best work to be sure but a funny and interesting read. If you're unfamiliar with his work, start with "The Choir Boys," a true masterpiece and one of my favorite books.

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