Finbar Finnegan is a San Diego detective who would rather be an actor but who has to solve a truck, heist. Bobbie Ann "Bad Dog" is a Navy command investigator intent on finding 2,000 pairs of boots stolen from a government warehouse. Nell Salter is an environmental-crimes cop who wants to put an abusive marriage behind her and a child killer in her gunsights.
The three have nothing in common until their respective trails lead to the front door of the Green Earth Hauling and Disposal Company and a 55-gal-lon drum filled with a supertoxic chemical. Then they hook up and wind their way through biker bars, drug hangouts and the Tijuana skin trade. The language is rough, the plot tight, skillfully weaving in and out of jams and setups in a breathless ride that takes cracks at environmental waste policies, political back-stabbing and NAFTA border issues. The three lead characters jump off the page, and the secondary crew is frightening and funny. Finnegan's Week is Wambaugh's best outing since The Secrets of Harry Bright and all the proof necessary that Wambaugh, a former L.A.P.D. police sergeant, is still a lop cop. (Morrow, $22)