The Black Marble-An Absurd Theft

It’s a Joseph Wambaugh novel so it is a bit hard for me to think that there might be a reader who does not know what to expect when reading one of his novels. However, the plot of this novel is absurd enough to consider the entire book a put-on. He writes of the world of cops with knowledge from experience of having been a cop. The most entertaining depictions presented are those of life in a squad room or precinct, where the cops live. Those are the plausible parts. For those without experience as a cop, it might be difficult to imagine it could be as wacky as described in this book. I had no problem accepting it.

A show dog, very valuable, will be kidnapped. A substitute, almost a look-alike will be left in its place. To solve and deal with this heinous crime, a plethora of misfits, both in and out of law enforcement, will be mustered. Some of the most important ones are:

Central protagonist and 24 hour-a-day alcoholic police officer, Valnikov, almost beyond the capacity to function on any level resembling human. He seems to speak only in non-sequiturs to partner Natalie.

An entire case that revolves around the theft of a show dog, very important to owner Madeline, a formerly wealthy woman without present-day ready cash, as she cannot sleep unless her dog, Vickie, is in bed beside her

The Terrier King, an unscrupulous dog trainer for show dogs. A dog-napper through a bait and switch theft of Vickie for Tutu

A squad room full of cops that seem to co-exist despite all their personal and professional flaws

Partner cop Natalie who keeps the readers interest engaged with the answer to the question of whether she will ever respect Valnikov. She wants to complain about Valnikov to Cpt. “Hipless” Hooker, her boss, but he is too busy retiring

Millie, just shy of 80 years old, with a belief that twenty-five-year-old guys are too old for her. She cares more for them than Tutu, her show dog. Alligators also take precedence.

This is a fun read for a weekend.

 

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