Grandmaster of Police Stories





Joseph Wambaugh is known as the “Father of The Modern Police Novel”
in that he took the traditional police procedural, a genre that told readers how the cop acts on the Job and turned it
on its head, preferring to tell how the Job acts on the cop.  In effect, his books became psychological police stories, gritty and realistic, but leavened by dark and defensive cop humor that induce both belly laughs and tears.  He
focused on PTSD in the police service long before the acute stress response was widely known by the general
public, but he used cop comedy and humor to camouflage his serious intent.  His books have never fit into a genre category and have always received attention from notable critics.  After Wambaugh left the LAPD Evan Hunter wrote
in the New York Times Book Review:  "Let us dispel forever the notion that Mr. Wambaugh is only a former cop who happens to write books. This would be tantamount to saying that Jack London was first and foremost a sailor.  Mr. Wambaugh is, in fact, a writer of genuine power, style, wit and originality who has chosen to write about police in particular as a means of expressing his views on society in general."


Harbor Nocturne

by Joseph Wambaugh
Mysterious Press, April 2012, $27.00

"When it comes to portraying life on the street from a cop’s perspective, no one tells it with more authenticity and flair than former L.A. Police Detective Joseph Wambaugh. Harbor Nocturne, the fifth in his Hollywood Station series, is proof positive that the master hasn’t lost his touch. This highly entertaining book, possibly his best fiction since The Choirboys, has it all: action, love, suspense, pathos, realism, quirky characters and especially humor—the dark, sarcastic, hilarious humor of cops trying to cope with the weirdness that is human nature. What a tale he tells, or rather what a series of tales, as each tour of duty is filled with incidents that are short stories in themselves. Many of the cops from the previous four books are back and as loveably loony as ever (Britney Small, surfer cops “Flotsam” and “Jetsam,” handsome “Hollywood Nate” Weiss), but with new and zany civilians to perk up or ruin their nights.

Wambaugh isn’t just relating a series of vignettes in the daily life of these men and women in blue, he has written a fully developed crime novel dealing with the sex and drug culture of present-day California. The action alternates between Hollywood and San Pedro, one of the harbor areas of Los Angeles. A young longshoreman, Dinko Babich, falls in love with Lita Medina, an illegal Mexican immigrant he helps after she witnesses a murder and is hunted by violent thugs. The contrasts between the longshoreman’s Croatian family background and the girl’s Mexican one are beautifully drawn and their love affair so gently portrayed that the reader can’t help but root for them. How these star-crossed lovers and the cops of Hollywood Division intertwine makes for one unforgettable, delightful reading experience."
---Mystery Scene Magazine




“Do you like cops? Read The New Centurions. Do you hate cops? Read The New Centurions. This novel performs one of the essential and enduring functions the novel can perform. It takes us into the minds and hearts, into the nerves and (sometimes literally) into the guts of other human beings.”—New York Times Book Review

“An unsparing and powerful novel which takes us right to the front line of the police experience…The novel takes its power from the same sources which illuminated the works of such important American writers as Crane and Dos Passos, Faulkner and Hemingway.”—Los Angeles Times


“A distinguished… fascinating account of a double tragedy: one physical, the other psychological.”—Truman Capote

“A complex story of tragic proportions…more ambitious than In Cold Blood and equally compelling.” —New York Times


“Wambaugh’s characters have altered America’s view of police. His Los Angeles officers are besieged working men and women whose lives are presented with war-zone humor and lively plots.” —Time Magazine

“Stark…orgiastic…brilliant. Wambaugh’s finest book. —Los Angeles Times



“First-rate... fast, colorful, and gripping... as touching as it is breathlessly entertaining.”  —Cosmopolitan

“His best work... funny, bittersweet... hearty laughs one minute, a lump in the throat the next.  —Pittsburgh Press




“Highly entertaining... outrageous and hilarious... all of Wambaugh’s trademark jet-black humor is intact.”  —Washington Post Book World

“Blisteringly funny…exhilarating…colorful…a pleasure…It has all the authority, outrage, compassion, and humor of the great early novels."—New York Times Book Review



“If there is a man alive who understands the heart, mind, and soul of police officers, and has the ability to write about them with eloquent simplicity, horror and humor, illustrating their terrible truths and wondrous joys, it is Joseph Wambaugh.”—New York Sun

“Wambaugh’s abundantly black humor and social satire will make you laugh—and think.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



“Lots of laughs and gasps along with a few tender sighs…spare and punchy prose. . . so on target that readers will feel they are riding shotgun, gazing out on Tinseltown’s tawdry landscape.”  —Publisher’s Weekly

“A strong plot... a fast pace, the mood swings pleasingly from tragic to darkly comic... moving and believable.”  — Associated Press



Vivid... a cogent reminder that he remains on the beat, and as effective as ever.  Wambaugh is like English historian Edward Gibbon, recording the rise and fall of a great empire.  And, like Gibbon, he will be read long after those who follow him are forgotten.”—The Los Angeles Times

“An entertaining and starkly realistic ride-along with the LAPD…His carefully drawn characters are colorful but utterly believable... No writer describes the cop world’s twin masks of comedy and tragedy as well as Joseph Wambaugh.—The Philadelphia Inquirer