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Harbor Nocturne

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  881 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
In the southernmost Los Angeles district of San Pedro, one of the world’s busiest harbors, an unlikely pair of lovers are unwittingly caught between the two warring sides of the law. When Dinko Babich, a young longshoreman, delivers Lita Medina, a young Mexican dancer, from the harbor to a Hollywood nightclub, theirs lives are forever changed, as their love develops among ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Mysterious Press
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Jul 02, 2012 Kemper rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery, 5-0, 2012
Joseph Wambaugh’s collection of beleaguered cops that make up the LAPD’s Hollywood Division are back and dealing with the general stupidity, weirdness and brutality that makes their jurisdiction so unique. This usually means breaking up fights among the costumed ‘superheroes’ hustling the tourists or dealing with a domestic dispute between a couple of tweakers by getting them to do a duet of Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe.

This entry borrows a page from The Wire by also having a story based arou
Laura Leaney
May 23, 2012 Laura Leaney rated it it was ok
Cliched and overworked. The ghastly plot had not a single surprise. The characters are cardboard racial stereotypes: the Mexican pole dancer with a heart of gold; the Croatian slacker momma's boy who is changed for the better by the Mexican dancer with a heart of gold; the Croatian momma who cooks great quantities of food, who at first hates Mexican pole dancer but who changes her mind when son begins to shave and sit up straight; the Italian pimp; the scary Korean in black glasses who garrotes ...more
Jan 13, 2015 Thomas rated it it was amazing
This book, like all Wambaugh books, has laugh out loud lines and some sad parts. The "Hollywood Love Story Award" in Chapter 8 is hilarious, with the couple singing "I got you babe" in a happy ending to a domestic violence call.

This book is more true to life of what it like to be an police officer than many police procedurals, in that Wambaugh was an LAPD cop for about 10 years. He said that he knew it was time to leave the LAPD when a suspect asked him for his autograph while he was handcuffing
Robert Carraher
Nov 03, 2012 Robert Carraher rated it it was amazing
There may just be no writer alive who more accurately writes L.A. in all its ravaged beauty. Told with grit, biting observations of the denizen that populated Los Angles and the surrounding area, and often with an extravagance that any Angelino could tell you isn’t extravagance at all. Los Angeles may just be the one place on earth where truth IS stranger that fiction. If his bad guys seem over the top to the reader, then the reader has never spent any significant time in L.A. because in L.A. ...more
Jul 28, 2013 Shawn rated it really liked it
I'm so surprised about Harbor Nocturne--I really liked it! I'm just surprised Joseph Wambaugh (not to be morbid) is still kicking out the books, and that he wrote this one that is set, basically, almost at the apartment building I live in, in San Pedro, California.
I used to read the Wambaugh books when I was a teen; I mean, that is literally damn near 40 years ago! I look at the book jacket...when I was 15, Wambaugh looked like an old ex-cop (which I believe he is--on this jacket it just says he
Jul 19, 2012 Eileen rated it liked it
The zany police officers of Hollywood Station's midwatch are back at it. Highlighted in this book are Flotsom and Jetsom, the surfer cops, who use the craziest, kookiest tactics to apprehend the bad guys. This series of books interweaves several story lines, all coming together nicely at the end. Classic bad guys vs. the cops, but very fun to read. The cop lingo and antics the officers pull are good for a few giggles, even though the story lines are pretty simple. I could see this actually ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Aug 23, 2016 Fredrick Danysh rated it liked it
In LAPD's Hollywood Division, the surfer cops are called upon to go undercover for a human trafficing case. Many familiar characters are back as the area of San Pedro is investigated by the police. Wambaugh uses some unusual relationships in his story.
Norm Lionberger
Followed my "first 100" rule but couldn't force myself to read page 101. Disappointing, especially for Wambaugh.
Nov 03, 2016 Revere rated it liked it
Shelves: joseph_wambaugh
I would guess that readers who are police[wo]men would enjoy this more than I did. There was too much cop and [supposed] surfer-dude lingo, much of which sounded hopelessly fake--but what do I know about Wambaugh's fictional world? My guess is that the off-plot cop stories are real, but many seemed more sad than entertaining. They did not add to my enjoyment of his story.
Kurt Weber
Nov 25, 2016 Kurt Weber rated it really liked it
Finally finished this one, and it was braw worth it.
Mal Warwick
May 27, 2012 Mal Warwick rated it really liked it
Joseph Wambaugh Paints Los Angeles in Many Clashing Colors

When you read Joseph Wambaugh on the endlessly diverse “coppers” of the LAPD or the equally colorful denizens of their turf, you know you’ve met the truth. Listen as he describes three of Hollywood’s zoned-out derelicts:

“Their shirts and trousers were so stained and filthy they’d lost their color and seemed to sprout from them like fungus. Two had splotchy skin with open sores, and there were not twenty teeth among them. As younger transi
Gloria Feit
Mar 12, 2012 Gloria Feit rated it really liked it
Joseph Wambaugh and a new LAPD novel – not much more needs to be said, does it?

But I will anyway.

The characters in this novel fall into two groups: The cops [primarily in what used to be called the Hollywood Division, now Hollywood Station, a name more sensitive to the societal reaction to the old name - - typical of the sensitivity-training-filled culture imposed on the various precinct houses], and the denizens of Hollywood, mostly a mixture of various ethnicities – Asian, Hispanic, Eastern Eu
Jul 06, 2012 Mark rated it liked it
Wambaugh, a former L.A. cop, has churned out over twenty novels pulling on experiences he went through ‘on the job.’ He tells us there are two types of cops; that since the years after the Rodney King beating the department became full of “risk-averse cops who wanted to get through their closely supervised careers safely” and the “retro action-oriented risk takers, who always ran straight to the sound of guns.” He makes it pretty clear which one he would have us believe he is.
The cops are regurg
Kathleen Hagen
Harbor Nocturne, by Joseph Wambaugh, a-minus, Narrated by r. C. Bray, Produced by Highbridge Company, downloaded from

This is another in the Hollywood Station series, which I find heart-warming and funny, especially the police dark humor. In this one, which is more of a love story than usual, Dinko, doing a friend a favor, takes Lita Medina to her home from a Hollywood nightclub where she is working. He finds that Lita, a young Mexican girl, is one of the young women tricked into com
Bestselling author, Joseph Wambaugh is known for his gritty novels about Los Angeles and Southern California, and Harbor Nocturne is no exception. If it were a film, I'd rate it an R for sex and violence. This is definitely an adults-only novel, and not something for the squeamish among us adults. Drugs, sex, violence, and corruption - but no rock and roll sadly enough.

San Pedro is a little harbor town that's part of the southwestern Los Angeles mega-metro area but, like all of the other little
Feb 21, 2016 vickrok rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
I actually listened to this book on the way to and from work and at the gym. I probably listened to it a couple of times on a walk, too. There were definitely some funny parts, and I liked that it was set largely here in San Pedro. But in a lot of ways, I thought it was really cheesy and at times annoying. Obviously this author is talented, and I don't want to make it sound like I could do any better, but I guess I felt like it was written too much for what the author considers the *average* ...more
I just love Wambaugh's Hollywood Cops series, even the corny bits. Highly recommended as audio experiences, especially if you are driving around the same tacky SoCal streets as those he describes, which is the case with me, more or less. There is a great crime policier here, with all the requisite pleasures provided by a master storyteller like Wambaugh---especially setting, detailed police procedure, ethics and morality (or lack thereof), and a lovely cast of nasties. Layered on top like gooey ...more
The harbor district in San Pedro in Los Angeles is the center of action in this story. Besides the business activity around the busy port, the area is made up of many ethnic grops and adult entertainment clubs.

The overworked LAPD is attempting to patrol an area that has many street gangs and other residents who don't speak the same language as the police.

Dinko Babich is a second generation Croatian. He works on the docks but is currently suspended from work. He does a favor for a friend and take
Apr 13, 2012 Elli rated it really liked it
I like Joseph Wambaugh. Have been a fan of his since his first novel came out based on an incident that happened in San Diego. There's no cop show on TV that's quite like cops, crime, underbelly, dark side, etc. quite like through Joseph Wambaugh's eyes! He's a humorist, too. An excellent one. And he is an ex-cop with lots of time actively spent on the police force. Who, for instance could describe a brand new degreed sergeant with a bunch of older experienced whom he enticed to become part of ...more
Richard Beasley
Sep 29, 2015 Richard Beasley rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gerald Kinro
Apr 21, 2013 Gerald Kinro rated it it was amazing
This story is set in the Los Angeles harbor community of San Pedro and contains many of the police characters of the Hollywood Station: “Hollywood Nate” Weiss, the actor wannabe; the surfers “Flotsam” and “Jetsam”; and Britney Small, one who had to actually shoot someone in the line of duty. Duke Babich, a longshoreman transports a young Mexican dancer, Lita Medina, to a club, he falls in love and takes her home instead. A poignant love story develops as they are caught up in the activities of ...more
Aug 06, 2012 Ed rated it really liked it
Shelves: law-enforcement
#5 in the Hollywood series. Wambaugh's ensemble cast of Hollywood cops have their usual, entertaining adventures around a story tied to different aspects of human smuggling and a fascinating look at the Croation community in San Pedro. It was my only encounter with the word ćevapčići since it appeared on a lunch menu in Darmstadt, Germany about 25 years ago.

Hollywood series - Surfer cops "Flotsam and Jetsam" get their first "intelligence-gathering mission" to ferret out the "money guys" behind a
Jun 11, 2012 Shannon rated it liked it
While this doesn't say that it's a Hollywood Station novel, it is. The only difference is that there isn't quite as much focus on the cops and the parallel stories of the bad guys take most of the spotlight. Once again Wambaugh saddens me with the ending of his stories but in real life not everything ends with 'happily ever after'. Flotsam/Jetsam are highlighted more and I got my laughs from them (Transient Jeopardy sounds fun!). Nate and Britney are there and there were a couple of other ...more
Jul 23, 2012 Walt rated it liked it
Surfer cops 'Flotsam and Jetsam' get their first 'intelligence-gathering mission' to ferret out the 'money guys' behind a ring of erotic massage parlors, whose human trafficking operation may have resulted in the deaths of 13 Asian immigrants smuggled in a container at San Pedro's shipping yards. Jetsam's amputated foot is their entry to a wealthy Russian with an infatuation with amputees. Meanwhile, a Romeo and Juliet love burgeons between Dinko Babich, a Croatian longshoreman, and Lita Medina ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really great police detective story.
Rather than Harbor Nocturne being about one crime that the police are trying to figure out, it's more about life in a Hollywood police station.
You get to know the various police officers - their quirks, the quirky cases they encounter, and about life in Hollywood.

Over arching the whole book is a story about strip clubs, illegal immigrants, murder, and a man obsessed with amputees.

I really enjoyed listening to this story because you really get to
Dewayne Stark
Jun 12, 2012 Dewayne Stark rated it it was amazing
Classic Wambaugh. If you don't know where Pedro is you are not alone in the geographic department. Many folks don't know where San Pedro is or where the Harbor Freeway (110) actually goes. If you travel north on it you will wind up in Pasadena. Turn and drive south till the end and you either exit on Gaffey or Harbor. The characters in this story are from the Holly Wood Division and part of the action takes place in Wilmington and San Pedro. Wilmington and San Pedro both are located on the Los ...more
Jun 06, 2012 Tobin rated it really liked it
What does one say after another strong series of tales of Hollywood Division? Maybe I mention the complexity and depth of characters. Perhaps I talk about the humor and humanity captured by Wambaugh. I could also mention the Cops & Robbers genre and say that it has only been done this well over this long a period in shows like Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue.

The bad guys always get what's coming, albeit not in the most expected ways, and while the good guys always win the victories don't com
Tina Foster
Mar 05, 2016 Tina Foster rated it it was amazing
I love Joseph Wambaugh's cast of quirky characters, from Hollywood Nate to the surfer cops, Flotsam and Jetsam. I've read most of his Hollywood Station series. This book was more about the people who were involved in a human trafficing business that turned tragic than about the cops. In fact the cops were hardly in this, in that they never solved a crime or saved anyone. Their role was more on the peripheral side of the story.

But I love his writing, and his cops are pretty true to life, having
Nov 02, 2014 Marti rated it really liked it
How refreshing to find a Joseph Wambaugh title offered on nook! I have read a number of his other ones, and feel that this is a more agreeable book. After reading this, you might wonder why anyone would want to live in this area with all its crime. Dinko, a longshoreman, falls in love with Lita, a dancer who is not good at her profession. There are the usual crooks, and a sort of delightful drunk who has a favorite dumpster in which to sleep--one time with another dead dancer. There is just ...more
Ray Smith
Apr 15, 2012 Ray Smith rated it liked it
Like all of the other Hollywood Station novels, it's enjoyable and funny yet also melancholy. It's not quite as good as the others, however, because of 2 reasons. One, the most interesting cops from the other books aren't present much in the plot--like Nate Weiss--and the only reoccurring people are Flotsam and Jetsam, who, while funny, are rather simple-minded characters. The new cops aren't as interesting or well-drawn. And while Wambaugh gives a nice detailed description of San Pedro and the ...more
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Joseph Wambaugh, a former LAPD detective sergeant (1960-1974), is the bestselling author of twenty-one prior works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Choirboys and The Onion Field. Wambaugh joined the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 1960. He served 14 years, rising to detective sergeant. He also attended California State University, Los Angeles, where he earned Bachelor of Arts and ...more
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