"Hollywood Nate" Weiss might have finally found his big break when he meets B-list director Rudy Ressler and his wealthy widow girlfriend, Leona Brueger. The couple is planning an extended trip to Tuscany and is worried about the security of their Hollywood Hills mansion, since there's been a rash of burglaries committed by the "Bling Ring." Nate agrees to keep an eye on their home and Rudy agrees to help Nate get a movie role. Rudy and Leona are also "fortunate" to have found a live-in butler who will care for Leona's invalid brother-in-law. The butler, Raleigh L. Dibble, is a petty criminal who has vowed to go legit, but he can't resist art dealer Nigel Wickland's offer of big money to help him pull off an art fraud deal while Rudy and Leona are away. All Raleigh has to do is allow Nigel access to the house so that he can photograph two expensive paintings and replace the originals with copies. What seems like a fool-proof idea would have worked if it weren't for a fool--in the person of Jonas Claymore, who decides to copycat the Bling Ring bandits. When he and drug-addled girlfriend Megan Burke steal Nigel's van, they unwittingly steal the priceless original masterpieces. As the detectives and officers from the Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles Police Department investigate the Bling Ring, they encounter Raleigh, Nigel and a host of other misfit criminals with sometimes comical and occasionally tragic results.
Hollywood Hills is the fourth in Joseph Wambaugh's series about the Hollywood Station. Recurring characters, such as the surfer cops, Flotsam and Jetsam, and Hollywood Nate perform most of the police work in this book, but Sgt. Murillo, Snuffy Salcedo and Viv Dailey also provide insight into the everyday operations at the urban police station. In addition to recurring characters, there is the reference to the Hollywood moon in each book. During each month's Hollywood or full moon, people are said to be crazier than ever, and Sgt Murillo offers a pizza to the squad that reports the most bizarre situation on its shift. Bizarre seems to be the normal order of business at Hollywood Station, so it's usually hard to choose and in this book, the pattern holds true. Christian Rummel's narration expertly conveys the irreverence of the surfer cops and the haughty condescension of Nigel Wickland, while giving distinct voices to each of the other characters.
Because Wambaugh was a police officer and still has close ties to policemen and women he is able to fill this book with realistic situations and conversations that are both humorous and pathetic. The listener is able to eavesdrop on the conversations of the partners as they cruise the streets, discussing personal matters and watch them in action as they try to bring order to a volatile dangerous or hilarious situation. While telling an entertaining and engaging story, Wambaugh reminds us that being a police officer in Hollywood is not all glamour and movie stars. Highly recommended.
Hollywood Hills by Joseph Wambaugh
Read by Christian Rummel
Hachette Audio, unabridged: 11 hours