Breda Burrows and Lynn Cutter
Created by Joseph Wambaugh

Real-life veteran LAPD cop-turned-cop-writer Joseph Wambaugh's first private eye novel is quite a departure.

Mostly because it's not that great.

Whereas his previous books tended toward gritty, just-the-facts, ma'am non-fiction and gritty, two-fisted fiction set in the nasty little corners of police life, Fugitive Nights is a light-hearted little romp set in sunny, swanky Palm Springs, the desert playground for the rich and bored.

Classy, forty-something lady cop BREDA BURROWS, recently retired from the LAPD after putting in her twenty years, has decided to set up a P.I. shop, "Discreet Inquiries," in Palm Springs. But a pretty routine domestic case takes a weird hop and she decides she needs a little back-up..

So she calls in LYNN CUTTER, a Palm Springs cop on disability leave, biding time waiting for his disability pension to kick in, figuring he wouldn't say "No" to a few bucks under the table. But then the fun starts. Breda may be a little flaky at times, tooling around town on her $2500 racing bike desperate to keep in shape (she has a college-age daughter), but she's also one tough cookie, a level-headed, no-nonsense businessperson,

Lynn, on the other hand, is a cynical, out-of-shape boozer with bad knees and two ex-wives who hangs out at a local dive, "The Furnace Room", with a lot of has-beens and never-weres. He doesn't even have a place to live. He's been housesitting for various acquaintances lately, but he's running out of places to crash.

Needless to say, Lynn and Breda tend to be a rather uneasy mixture. Complicating the matter is the fact that there may be a little mutual attraction going on, and that the routine domestic case turns out to be a rather loopy affair involving a mysterious sperm sample, a couple of bored rich folks, an over-eager cop called Dirty Hareem, the Bob Hope celebrity golf tournament, a suspicious fugitive who may be a middle-eastern terrorist and Sonny Bono.

As I said, it's not great Wambaugh -- not by a long shot. Still, as fluff goes, it's an affable enough shaggy dog tale, mildly amusing.

It was also made into a so-so made-for-television movie with Teri Garr and Sam Elliot well-cast as Breda and Lynn. As these things go, it was relatively faithful to the book. But then, Wambaugh wrote the teleplay, and executive produced the whole thing.

Again, it's fluff, but next time it's on the tube, check it out.




Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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