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Review: Hollywood Hills

February 24, 2011

“Hollywood Nate” is a police officer in Hollywood with a Screen Actor’s Guild card.  He’s just as interested in promoting his non-existent acting career as he is in enforcing the law.  In an attempt to impress B-list director Rudy Ressler, he agrees to check on Ressler’s wealthy fiancée’s estate while she and Rudy are out of the country.

At the same time, Leona’s (Ressler’s fiancée) housekeeper becomes involved with an underhanded art dealer who hopes to replace two of Leona’s paintings with fakes.  A couple of drug addicts, looking for something to steal, stumble on Leona’s estate and find themselves in the middle of an elaborate plan and they hope they can figure out a way to cash in on it.

When I was in high school or college, I devoured every Joseph Wambaugh book, I could get my hands on, so I was excited to have the opportunity to listen to his latest, Hollywood Hills, on audio.  I’m not sure if my memory’s right, but I remember books like The Blue Knight and The Onion Field as being raw and gritty and Hollywood Hills had a more “campy,” for lack of a better word, feel to it.

There’s a lot going on in Hollywood Hills, but I never found the story line difficult to follow.  I did find parts a little unbelievable – for instance one of the drug addicts quits cold turkey and decides she will go into rehab if they can make enough money from their blackmail scheme.  One minute the most important thing in the world was scoring her next hit and the next minute, she’d quit cold turkey.  There is some slang and lingo to get used to, and at first, I wondered if that would be difficult, but it wasn’t a problem at all.

I ended up liking, but not loving, this book.  As I was looking for links for this review, I discovered it’s the fourth book in Wambaugh’s Hollywood Station series and I can’t help but wonder if I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read the previous books.

The audio version of this book is on 10 CDs and lasts about 11 hours.  It’s read by Christian Rummel and he does a great job.  His narration was flat a few times, but he is a master of voices, and definitely a reader to watch for.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
30 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2011 6:56 am

    These kinds of books are everywhere, and I’d agree they are a like not love kind of thing. Entertaining, but not too much depth. I think I spent my whole entire college career reading books just like this.

  2. February 24, 2011 8:43 am

    The only Wambaugh book I have read is The Onion Field, which I read in college; I remember that I found it quite disturbing, but very engrossing. From your review, it sounds like this is much more superficial — I love your choice of the word “campy”!

  3. February 24, 2011 10:20 am

    It seems to be that too many authors who hit it big time early on, become lazy and superficial in their writing as time goes by. Their name alone assures that many readers will buy the books, until they give up on him. Meanwhile, high income. Wambaugh’s early books were very good; the movies based on them less so as I remember.

  4. February 24, 2011 10:27 am

    This story does sound as though it’s got a lot going on in it, and I am glad that you mostly enjoyed it, despite it’s bits of implausibility. I have never heard of this author or his books, but they do sound like they might be fun to invest in and I might have to consider giving one of them a try. Thanks for the excellent review, Kathy!

  5. February 24, 2011 10:51 am

    Thanks for the review Kathy…this sounds like one that I would enjoy on audio! I find that I really enjoy audio books that have a bit of action and suspense.

  6. February 24, 2011 10:57 am

    I haven’t thought about Joseph Wambaugh in ages. I too used to read him like mad. I don’t know if I’ll go back and start reading him again right away but it’s nice to remember how much I loved him.

  7. February 24, 2011 11:01 am

    Perhaps not for me, but I do like reaidng audio book reviews. One day I will try one

  8. February 24, 2011 11:08 am

    I haven’t read any of his books but this doesn’t really sound like my thing.

  9. February 24, 2011 12:24 pm

    I’ve never been much for books about Hollywood, but it sounds like an okay “light” choice!

  10. February 24, 2011 1:03 pm

    Since I live near Hollywood where everyone and their mother touts their non-existant acting career, I’m not sure if I would get a kick out of this book, or want to kick it across the room. Hmmm… I may have to do a little more research on the rest of the series. I do like to have an entertaining story set in a place I’m so familiar with. It can make it that much more fun.

  11. February 24, 2011 1:06 pm

    Sorry to see this one wasn’t as good as the others you read in the past. I agree with you, an addict going cold turkey would probably bother me too. It’s just not that easy to do.

  12. February 24, 2011 1:12 pm

    When I was younger, I was just like you and devoured everything Wambaugh wrote. I haven’t even started this series yet, but I feel like I should.

  13. February 24, 2011 1:43 pm

    I never heard of this author before and I also never tried an audio book before. I really should, because I keep hearing great things about them. 🙂

  14. February 24, 2011 2:54 pm

    I have seen this book around and was on the fence about it. But after reading your review, I’m glad I didn’t accept, it sounds like it was a so-so book. Thank you for the honest review.

  15. February 24, 2011 3:13 pm

    Like you…I devoured him in high school…but have not read anything lately…I think he is an author from another time…not for me any more but I am glad you enjoyed it.

  16. February 24, 2011 5:57 pm

    Thanks for the helpful review — it doesn’t sound like it will make into my TBR anytime soon, but I might look for the older titles.

  17. February 24, 2011 6:06 pm

    Kathy, this sounds good. I am so impressed that you are able to listen to so many audio books. I am not as adept at budgeting my time. 🙂

  18. February 24, 2011 7:21 pm

    I think I’ll wait for a rave — I love how honest you are!

  19. February 24, 2011 7:48 pm

    Sounds good.

  20. February 24, 2011 7:56 pm

    As I was reading your description, I was wondering if this the same Wambaugh from The Onion Fields. Sounds like a different kind of writer!

  21. February 24, 2011 8:31 pm

    not sure I would care for this one, but I do love good audio books. thanks for your honest review Kathy.

  22. February 24, 2011 8:44 pm

    I had much the same reaction to this novel as you did. My review (short) is at

    Nice blog!

  23. February 24, 2011 11:06 pm

    Lol! Everyone in Hollywood wants to be an actor, even the cops. That’s awesome!

  24. February 25, 2011 5:43 am

    I have this one too. I’ll likely listen to it — yes, even out of order! Sometimes light is good.

  25. February 25, 2011 2:47 pm

    Sounds like a fun one. I have to admit to enjoying “campy.”

  26. February 25, 2011 10:55 pm

    It’s killing when you read/buy a book only to later realize that it’s the 3rd or 5th book in a series. I have one on my shelf which is the 5th I guess. I don’t think I’ll ever get to it.

  27. February 26, 2011 11:07 am

    oh glad you liked this one! i have one of his Hollywood books sitting on my shelf but i can’t remember which one. i want to say it’s hollywood station. i haven’t read it yet though, but seeing your review makes me want to move it up my tbr a little bit.

  28. February 26, 2011 1:07 pm

    I am always accidentally reading a book in a series out of order – I agree it often affects how much you enjoy it! Don’t know that I have read any Wambaugh before – one of many gaps in my list!

  29. February 26, 2011 8:05 pm

    11 hours! That is mind boggling and … 11 hours! Sorry I can’t get over this part and it keeps coming back to me again & again. WOW!

  30. stacybuckeye permalink
    March 1, 2011 10:12 am

    I’ve never read Wmabaugh but if you devoured them all at one time they must be good!

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