Nate Weiss an officer with the LAPD’s Community Relations Office, dreams of making it big as an actor one day thus earning him the name, Hollywood Nate. As one of the Crows, Nate doesn’t ordinarily deal with simple traffic violations but when the drop-dead gorgeous Margot Aziz ran a stop sign he couldn’t resist pulling her over just to see if she was as incredible as he remembered. The fact that she was in the midst of a nasty divorce from strip club owner Ali Aziz didn’t lessen Margot’s appeal, a trait she plans to capitalize on. Drug addict and sometime thief Leonard Stilwell is looking for his big break and when he becomes entangled with the rich owner of the Leopard Lounge on Sunset Boulevard, sees his chance to make some serious dough. Nate, along with fellow Crows Ronnie Sinclair and Bix Ramstead are warned of Ali’s threats to Margot but few could have foreseen the tragic results of manipulation, betrayal and murder that will leave a lasting imprint on them all.
Having spent ten years with the LAPD, Wambaugh has good grasp of the L.A. streets less savory side which adds some much needed depth to this slow moving murder mystery that frequently gets sidetracked in little vignettes. The mixed bag of protagonists including a couple of surfer cops whose lingo becomes tiresome is balanced out by an equally odd assortment of antagonists, yet none of them are particularly clever. Most readers will figure out the climax early on so the main interest is in the way members of the LAPD interact and deal with recent changes in how they perform their duties.