Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Floaters by Joseph Wambaugh

Floaters by Joseph Wambaugh
1997, Bantam

Synopsis: Mick Fortney and his partner Leeds manage to cruise above the standard police stress-pools of coffee and Pepto-Bismol--they're water cops in the "Club Harbor Unit," manning a patrol boat on San Diego's Mission Bay. A typically rough day's detail consists of scoping out body-sculpted beauties on pleasure craft, rescuing boating bozos who've run aground, jeering at lifeguards, and hauling in the occasional floater who comes to the surface.

But now their days are anything but typical, because the America's Cup international sailing regattas have come to town and suddenly San Diego is swarming with yacht crazies of every nationality, the cuppies who want to love them, and the looky-look tourists, racing spies, scam artists, and hookers who all want their piece of the action. It's the outstanding body and jaunty smile--full of mischief, full of hell--of one cuppie, a particularly fiery redhead named Blaze, that gets Leeds and Fortney's attention. First Leeds drowns in frustratingly unrequited boozy love from afar. Then, with her increasingly odd behavior, Blaze tweaks every one of their cop instincts, alerting them that something's not quite right on the waterfront.

Indeed, Blaze will soon lead Detective Anne Zorn and Mick Fortney along a bizarre criminal trail that would be hilarious if it didn't wind up just as nasty as it gets, with a pair of murders right on the eve of the biggest sailing race of all.

Why read: Recommended by my uncle

What impressed me: I really liked the story itself. The premise of harbor detectives, the sailing world, and the tone of the dialogue. The mystery was well done and surprising too.

What disappointed me: A little too "hard-boiled" for my taste. Got that rough, tough guy feel that always alienates me from being able to connect with the detectives in this type of mystery.

Recommended: Not especially. I like my detectives more endearing.

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